From the moment Paul Johnson was introduced as Georgia Tech’s head coach in December 2007, the Yellow Jackets began hearing the negativity.
Their offense couldn’t produce big running plays, critics said. Defenses would figure it out quickly and dominate them in Johnson’s first year, they argued.
But of the criticism the Yellow Jackets entertained, none resonated as loudly as those who claimed Georgia Tech’s run-based option system would ignore receivers and hurt recruiting efforts at the position. Well, that argument met its match during Week 5 of the Yellow Jackets’ nine-win season when Georgia Tech receiver and Dublin product Demaryius “BeBe” Thomas put on a near-historic receiving showcase.
Photo from espn.com. Demaryius "BeBe" Thomas (left) sprints downfield after making one of nine catches against Duke. He was just 14 yards shy of setting a school record in single-game receiving yards with 230.
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Against Duke that day, he hauled in nine passes en route to a 230-yard receiving performance in a 27-0 win over the Blue Devils. Until that moment, only former Yellow Jackets star and NFL wideout Dez White had a more impressive day, when he caught for 243 yards in a game against Virginia in 1998.
As fate would have it, White was back on the field 10 years after his record-setting day, watching as a new player tried to shatter his high mark.
With White serving as an honorary Georgia Tech captain for the coin toss, Thomas admitted he was inspired to play his very best football. He wasn’t the only one.
Then-freshman quarterback Jaybo Shaw, making the first start of his young career, completed nine passes, all to Thomas. One of those connections resulted in an 88-yard touchdown that became the third-longest in team history.
Thomas’ performance played a key role in Johnson’s crusade to prove that receivers could thrive in his offense. Several weeks after the Duke game, the Yellow Jackets won an in-state battle for one of Georgia’s top receiver recruits when Stephen Hill committed to Georgia Tech, favoring the Yellow Jackets over Georgia.