Joe Thomas, Sr.’s Dream Comes Full Circle With Earning Degree

Friday, May 12, 2017


ORANGEBURG, SC — Just merely months after making history on becoming the oldest player in Division I history to every play in a football game at the age of 55, Joe Thomas, Sr. has reached yet another milestone in his life.


Joe ThomasOn Friday, May 12, 2017 at 6 p.m. inside Oliver. C. Dawson stadium, he will complete his lifelong journey of becoming a college graduate on the same field he made history back in the fall. He will walk across the stage in front of screaming family members, friends, fans and loyal Bulldog supporters to receive his degree, a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology with a focus in Engineering.


Thomas received national attention on Nov. 19, 2016 when he carried the ball for three yards in the first quarter of the Bulldogs’ game against Savannah State on Senior Day.


“It was the happiest day of my life,” Thomas told reporters after the game.


Just moments after that historic milestone that Saturday afternoon when he fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing college football, Thomas received calls from media outlets across the country such as ESPN, Good Morning America, CNN, Sports Center, Sports Illustrated and many other national and statewide news organizations.


Thomas, Sr. stated, “I didn’t expect it to be as big a story that it was. All I was doing was trying to live out my dream of playing college football."


Raised in Blackville, South Carolina, a small town about 40 minutes from Orangeburg, where South Carolina State’s campus is located, Thomas, Sr., throughout his childhood, was partially deaf, but a doctor helped him clear his ears when he was 17. During his junior and senior seasons at Blackville High School, he was a star defensive lineman and a promising running back. But he did not get the opportunity to play college football.


An entrepreneur in South Carolina with a construction company and a training facility, Thomas saw his business wiped out by the recession. Four years ago, he decided to pursue a degree in engineering and revive his athletic career.


Now with making history on his side on and off the field, Thomas, a son of a sharecropper beat the odds and did what no one thought he could do -- play college football and earn his degree.


“If you have a dream never give up on what you want to do in life,” said Thomas, Sr. “People will always try and discourage you, but if I had listen to every time someone told me no or I couldn’t do it then I wouldn’t be where I am today.


"It’s never too late to chase your dream as long as you believe in yourself.”


Thomas is the father of SC State alumnus and Green Bay Packer lineman Joe Thomas Jr.


For more information on South Carolina State Athletics visit www.scsuathletics.com or call the Office of Athletic Media Relations at (803) 536-7060.