ATHENS — There were about five minutes left in the game Saturday night when Jake Ganus was pulled from the game. That’s when he started getting really, really nervous.
“I’m like, Oh man. I’ve really gotta do this,” Ganus said. “My stomach started getting in knots, people started coming up to me, nudging me like, ‘All right man, all right.'”
By now most know what eventually happened: Ganus, Georgia’s senior inside linebacker, proposed to his girlfriend, Peyton Thomas, at the 50-yard line after Georgia’s 52-20 win over South Carolina. She said yes, and the story has gone viral. But three days later Ganus filled in a few more of the details.
It was not a spur-of-the-moment proposal. It had been planned since the summer, and a lot of people, including Georgia coach Mark Richt, were in on it. The only person surprised by it was Thomas herself.
So yes, leading up to and throughout a fairly big SEC football game, Georgia’s starting inside linebacker was well aware that he would be proposing marriage to someone after the game.
“I think I did a really good job of not thinking about it at all. I was really focused on the game. I was locked in,” Ganus said.
It showed, as Ganus led Georgia with seven tackles. And it’s a good thing the Bulldogs won, because if they had lost –
“It would’ve been off,” Ganus said. “I guess I would’ve had to come up with a whole new plan. I’m glad we won.”
Ganus thought up the midfield proposal back in the summer. He approached Richt with the idea during preseason camp, and it was approved. At some point Ganus picked the South Carolina game, and then it became a matter of logistics.
A ruse was devised: Ganus told Thomas that he was “senior of the week” – an award that Ganus said “doesn’t exist” – and that the award-winner gets to take pictures after the game at midfield with their family and friends. The parents of both Ganus and Thomas were invited, and they were in on it too. The only person unaware was Thomas herself.
Just to add to the subterfuge, the girlfriend of Kolton Houston, the sixth-year offensive tackle, texted Thomas to say she did it last year and it was a lot of fun.
Ganus also told that Thomas that “senior of the week” only happened after a win. All part of the contingency plan. But when the game ended the whole thing was a go, and Thomas and the couple’s families joined them.
“As we’re walking to the G, there’s like 10 cameras around, she still doesn’t know. She’s like, ‘What’s going on, why are these people here?’ So I think I did a good job of surprising her,” Ganus said. “She’s pretty smart too, so I’m happy I surprised her.”
The two had been together for six years, and knew each other for seven years. They haven’t set a wedding date yet.
“I didn’t really expect to turn out like it did, go viral and all that,” Ganus said. “But it’s crazy. I just wanted to do something special for her and it turned into something a lot more.”
Of course not everyone was happy.
“I know he messed up some relationships with some other guys’ relationships with some girls,” senior linebacker Jordan Jenkins said, laughing. “He got some messages from some other guys saying ‘Thanks Ganus. Now my girlfriend wants me to do the same thing.’ ”