Football teams like players with experience, but this could be unprecedented.
At 55, running back Joe Thomas Sr. may have become the oldest man to play Division 1 college football on Saturday. The walk-on gained 3 yards for South Carolina State on his first carry and finished with minus-1 yards rushing on four attempts.
But he was all positive after the game.
“I felt like a hero,” Thomas said at a news conference. “It was certainly one of the happiest days of my life.”
Thomas had been playing for the scout team, which imitates the plays of the upcoming opponent. After his construction business went under, he enrolled at South Carolina State to pursue an engineering degree and play alongside his son, Thomas Jr., who’s now a Green Bay Packer. Thomas also had to overcome torn knee ligaments that he suffered in an auto accident.
On Saturday, he earned the game ball in the team’s 32-0 victory over Savannah State and was carried off the field on his teammates’ shoulders. Appropriately enough, it was Senior Day.
The lesson was clear: “Never give up on your dream,” he said.
Here’s Thomas’ historic first carry in full: