FITZGERALD, GA (WALB) - The NFL is full of players whose rise to professional football began under the Friday night lights in south Georgia.
The town of Fitzgerald now has a player to call their own.
Jemea Thomas was selected by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the NFL Draft in May.
Now his hometown will honor the defensive back with Jemea Thomas Day on Monday.
Thomas and his family will be at Jaycee Stadium Monday evening as his hometown celebrates his accomplishment.
"It happens so seldom, and it's in a community that just flat out loves high school football," says Fitzgerald football booster and play-by-play commentator Tim Raynor. "When one of your former student-athletes attains the dream of being drafted in the pros, you need to recognize them, love on them, and pay tribute to them."
Thomas was a four year starter with the Purple Hurricane. He was named the AJC Class AA Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.
He signed with Georgia Tech out of high school, and became a defensive standout with the Yellow Jackets. He was a multi-time ACC Defensive Back of the Week, and is tied for the program's all-time record for games played.
Now he's headed to Foxborough to join the Patriots, and Raynor says it's fair to say there will be quite a few New England fans in Fitzgerald this fall.
"The Patriots are one of those teams that have had so much success, they're sort of like the Braves were a few years ago," he laughs. "When they win so much, you always cheer for whoever they're playing against. But now we're all New Englanders around here."
Jemea Thomas Day will be at 7:00 Monday evening at Jaycee Stadium in Fitzgerald. Admission is free.