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Watch: 55-Year Old Running Back Takes 1st Carry, Becomes Oldest Division I Player In History

A 55-year-old running back named Joe Thomas gets a carry.


Joe Thomas Sr., a 55-year old running back at South Carolina State, became the oldest Division I football player in history today.

Thomas took a carry up the middle for the Bulldogs against Savannah State today, and picked up three yards, capped with a pretty nice display of power to fall forward through a tackle.

After years of trying to make history, Thomas accomplished it this afternoon. His story picked up traction earlier in the week, thanks to a great profile by Campus Rush's David Gardner, who described the long and winding journey leading to today's carry.

Midway through practice, he slips a yellow scout team sleeve over his helmet and jogs onto the field to rehearse kickoff return coverage. He's been at this for the better part of four seasons, enduring bleary-eyed predawn practices designed for players 35 years younger and in peak physical condition, with one goal in mind: To get in a game and make history as the oldest man ever to play Division I football. Detractors be damned: Joe was born to a sharecropper and raised a Green Bay Packer. He could barely hear until 17 and still graduated high school. And no one will be able to convince him that he can't compete until he takes the field and tries for himself. "I believe that if the coaches looked past my age and just let me play football," he says, "I'd steal someone's position."

Thomas originally aimed to play with his son, a former South Carolina State player who graduated in 2014. A car accident resulting in multiple ligament tears delayed things, and took away the chance of the two Thomases playing together, but Thomas Sr. persevered, and today the 55-year old running back got his carry.