Jake Ganus’ Memorable Year in Athens

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By Brandon Sudge and Anna Parks:

Featured photo: Blane Marable

Georgia linebacker Jake Ganus’ trek to Athens is quite a spectacular one. At the end of his junior season at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the program was abruptly shut down. Many fans and those affiliated with the university were very frustrated because it seemed as if it was a football program on the rise. Despite their frustration, many of these UAB athletes needed to find a new place to play. Ganus announced that he would continue his playing career at the University of Georgia, and an integral piece to any defense made his way to the Classic City.

UGA LB Jake Ganus celebrates after a tackle, (Pic: Sanderlin / AJC)
UGA LB Jake Ganus celebrates after a tackle. (Pic: Sanderlin / AJC)

This season, Ganus has been one of Georgia’s best defensive assets. After the 2014 season, Georgia’s linebacking core was without a leader after the departures of Amarlo Herrera, Ramik Wilson and Ray Drew. Ganus smoothly transitioned into a leadership role, making an instant impact. His fire and spark brings constant energy to Georgia’s defense, helping them to “hunker down” as a unit. His energy was seen throughout the season, getting in the face of opponents, giving his share of trash talk. Georgia will miss Ganus greatly as his void will be a big one to fill. In his short tenure in Athens, Ganus has recorded 74 total tackles (30 single) and forced three turnovers (with two games remaining). His impact on and off the field has made his time as a Bulldog memorable. Richt and his staff brought in a diamond in the rough player, and Georgia’s performances may have been more treacherous without Ganus’ presence.

Speaking of diamonds, a few months ago Ganus purchased one and he had the most memorable night of his life.

Jake Ganus and his then girlfriend Peyton Thomas started dating their sophomore year of high school in the town of Chelsea, Alabama. After dating throughout the remainder of high school, both attended the University of Alabama-Birmingham, but, as stated above, Ganus transferred to UGA after the program was shut down.

Any long distance relationship will have its difficulties, but Ganus and Thomas pulled through the tough transition. Thomas stayed at UAB but was able to drive to Athens to watch her boyfriend play football; however, on one trip to Athens she was not expecting such a surprise.

Jake Ganus and girlfriend Peyton Thomas. (Pic: Marable)

During fall camp, Ganus decided that he would use Sanford Stadium as the location to propose to his girlfriend, and then he chose that the right time would be after the South Carolina game—with a victory of course, he did not have a backup plan otherwise. With a 52-20 win over the Gamecocks, Ganus knew the timing was perfect. With help from his teammate Kolton Houston and Houston’s girlfriend, Thomas was convinced that Ganus was “Senior of the Week” and he and his family would go on out the field after the game. Houston was not the only sidekick of Ganus’ to complete this mission. Ganus contacted Chris Gilmore of georgiadogs.com and asked him to make a video of the proposal because Ganus knew that Thomas would absolutely love it.

So, when everything fell into place, Gilmore followed Ganus and Thomas out to the 50-yard line where Ganus got down on one knee and asked his girlfriend to marry him. Thomas didn’t see it coming. She was shocked and in tears after saying “yes” to the man of her dreams. Many photos of the happy couple and their families were taken that night and the following Monday the video was released through Ganus’s twitter account where he tagged Thomas so she would see it. Instantly Ganus and Thomas received an enormous amount of social media attention. Many people on Twitter or Instagram would refer to the two as “couple goals” or “relationship goals” after watching the video and looking at the pictures.

Two months later and the couple is still overwhelmed with joy about being engaged. Although this may not be the senior year that Ganus was expecting on the field with some tough losses, off the field he is still winning. This past Saturday, Ganus experienced an incredible senior night Between the Hedges of Sanford Stadium with an overtime win against Georgia Southern. Once again, Ganus was a leader on the field and the Bulldog Nation is thankful for his role as a key component to the team.

Jake Ganus and Peyton Moore
Jake Ganus just moments after proposing to his girlfriend Peyton Thomas at midfield. (Pic: Blane Mararable)
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