The wait finally came to an end for South Carolina State running back Joe Thomas Sr., now the oldest man ever to play Division I football.
The 55-year-old dreamer -- a long-ago standout at Blackville High -- finally stepped onto the field late in the first quarter against Savannah State, took the handoff and picked his way to a 3-yard gain.
Thomas got three more carries late in the Bulldogs’ 32-0 victory on Senior Day, exiting the field on the shoulders of teammates.
“It was the happiest day of my life,” Thomas told reporters afterward. “Something I always wanted to do was play college football; I got to play today. I thank South Carolina State University and the whole coaching staff.”
Thomas had spent four years as a scout-team player, deciding to walk on with the dream of practicing alongside his son. Joe Thomas Jr. now is a reserve linebacker for the Green Bay Packers.
Sports Illustrated has the backstory of a man who was born to a sharecropper, was nearly deaf until age 17, led Blackville High to the state semifinals in 1980, spent some time as a professional wrestler and needed an NCAA waiver to dress for the final three home games.