It took more than half a century, but Joe Thomas, Sr. finally lived his dream by carrying the football in a college football game.
The 55-year-old man picked up three yards on the first carry of his college career on Saturday against Savannah State. While the NCAA does not keep statistics on the age of players, it’s widely speculated that Thomas is the oldest man to ever play in a college football game.
Thomas grew up in rural South Carolina and played high school football. Despite starring on his high school football team in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, he did not receive a scholarship and decided not to pursue college football.
In 2012, his son Joe Thomas, Jr. joined the South Carolina State football team. Joe Sr. began working out with his son, and found he was able to keep up. Despite being over 50 years old, Joe Sr. decided to walk on to the South Carolina State team in the hopes of playing in a game with his son.
The NCAA does not have any age restrictions for athletes playing football. As long as the player is taking classes and has not used up his five years of eligibility, he can play on the football team.
Joe Sr. never got the chance to play with his son. He suffered a knee injury in 2013, and Joe Jr. was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the spring of 2014. But Joe Sr. stayed with the program, and was rewarded by getting a carry on Senior Day.
Breaking: 55-year-old Joe Thomas Sr becomes oldest DI football player after rushing for 3 yds for @SCStateAthletic. @wachfox pic.twitter.com/eyoSMpZDBK
— Mike Uva (@Mike_Uva) November 19, 2016
To read more on Joe Thomas Sr.’s life, click here.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.