After tricking his girlfriend into believing that she was simply participating in a post-game "Senior of the Week" celebration, middle linebacker Jake Ganus pulled out a ring and proposed to Peyton Thomas on the 50-yard line after Georgia's 52-20 throttling of South Carolina on Saturday.
Ganus had been planning the proposal for months with the help of his head coach, teammates, family and the University of Georgia Athletic Department. The ruse was that Ganus had been named "Senior of the Week," an honor that allows for photo ops on the enormous "G" logo at midfield of the 92,000-seat Sanford Stadium.
To add extra credibility to the story, the girlfriend of sixth-year offensive tackle Kolton Houston texted Thomas to affirm that she participated with her boyfriend the year before and the experience was a lot of fun. In a press conference after the game, Ganus admitted that there is no such thing as "Senior of the Week."
Ganus had told his coach and teammates that he would only go through with the proposal if the Bulldogs were victorious. On Saturday, as he came off the field with five minutes to go and his team well ahead, he started to get very, very nervous.
“I’m like, 'Oh man. I’ve really gotta do this,'” Ganus told dawgnation.com. “My stomach started getting in knots, people started coming up to me, nudging me like, ‘Alright man, alright.'”
When the moment of truth arrived, the 6'2" Ganus was on his game. With the ring box hidden in his left hand, he proudly escorted his girlfriend to the center of the big "G." She said she was a little suspicious when a throng of photographers came along.
"All of these cameras were following us, and I was kinda freaking out because I didn't know what was going on," Thomas told Bleacher Report. "He grabbed my hand and started telling me how much that he loved me, and I started crying because I knew what was happening and it hit me all at once."
Then the strapping 230-pound defensive dynamo, still wearing football gear, settled down on one knee and proposed to the girl he's loved since their high school days in Chelsea, Alabama.
Of course, she said,"Yes." The couple embraced and were greeted at midfield by friends, family and the rest of the Bulldog football team, a group of guys Ganus calls his "brothers."
The halo-style engagement ring seems to be designed in white gold or platinum and features a round center stone and a diamond-accented split-shank band.
The romantic moment has become a sensation on television, the internet and social media.
“I didn’t really expect it to turn out like it did, go viral and all that,” Ganus told dawgnational.com. “But it’s crazy. I just wanted to do something special for her and it turned into something a lot more.”
"His family was in on it, my family was in on it, coach [Mark] Richt was in on it, the players were in on it," Thomas said. "I had no idea."
The couple is planning a July 2016 wedding.
Screen captures via Vimeo.com; Twitter/JakeGanus; Twitter/PeytonThomas; Twitter/GeorgiaBulldogs; Instagram/JakeGanus_51; Instagram/PeytonThomas.