Peyton Manning funds Georgia Tech scholarship honoring Demaryius Thomas

ATLANTA - Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning has set up a scholarship at Georgia Tech honoring former Denver Broncos teammate Demaryius Thomas.

Thomas died in December from an apparent seizure at his suburban Atlanta home. The former NFL wide receiver was 33.

The PeyBack Foundation, a charitable organization set up by Manning and his wife Ashley, announced Wednesday that it will fund academic scholarships in the receiver's name at his alma mater. The financial aid will be available to incoming freshmen from Laurens County, the central Georgia community where Thomas was born and raised, or surrounding areas.

"Demaryius Thomas was an incredibly talented and unselfish teammate, but more importantly, he was a special person and friend," Manning, the former University of Tennessee star who was drafted No. 1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998, said in a released statement. "My family and I miss him dearly, and we wanted to honor D.T.'s memory."

Thomas starred at Georgia Tech from 2006-09 and was a first-round pick of the Broncos. After signing Manning at quarterback in 2012, the Broncos reached two Super Bowls and capped the 2015 season as champions. Manning retired a month later.

Thomas was a four-time Pro Bowl selection who finished his career with 724 receptions for 9,763 yards and 63 touchdowns. He also spent time with the Houston Texans, New England Patriots and New York Jets, with 2019 his final NFL season.

"An important part of Demaryius' legacy was the way he inspired the next generation to pursue their dreams with the same perseverance and determination that defined him," Manning said. "Through this scholarship to Georgia Tech, Demaryius will have a lasting impact on deserving youth from his hometown area who can follow in his footsteps and accomplish great things in life."