Age ain’t nothing but a number—even in the rough-and-tumble world of college football.
On Saturday, with a 3-yard gain, a 55-year-old became the oldest walk-on running back ever to play Division I college football.
South Carolina State running back Joe Thomas Sr., the 55-year-old father of Green Bay Packers linebacker Joe Thomas Jr., took the field in a 32-0 victory over Savannah State on senior day, reports ESPN.
Joe Sr. finished the game with four carries for minus-1 yard rushing. Afterward, the team where Joe Jr. played from 2010 to 2013 presented him with a game ball.
“I felt like a hero,” said the Blackville, South Carolina, native, who four years ago decided to pursue an engineering degree and revive his athletic career after the recession wiped out his construction business.
“It was certainly one of the happiest days of my life. I always wanted to play college football, and I finally got the chance,” said Joe Sr. “I had been waiting 36 years.”
He added, “I always said, ‘Never give up on your dreams. Keep driving forward and don’t listen to other people.’ It’s a great day for me, but I must admit, I didn’t think my situation would generate so much attention and so much positive response.”
Joe Jr., who has been with the Packers since 2015, was a bit concerned about his dad before game day.
“I am a little worried,” Joe Jr. said Friday. “I know his body might be a little fragile. I’m going to try to get the coach not to run him on one of those stretch plays. I’m going to try to get him to run straight downhill.”
He continued, “It’s been crazy for me,” Joe Jr. said. “I never thought you’d see a 55-year-old running back. I’m just proud of him. He made his mind up to do something and stuck to it.”
Read more at ESPN.