College football is one of the oldest sports in the country, with east coast teams squaring off on the gridiron in the late 1800s. Here are some of the oldest players to ever play the game — as in they weren’t exactly of the “traditional” college age.
Joe Thomas, Sr.
The oldest guy to ever play in Division I football — the highest level, for big and major schools — was 55-year-old Joe Thomas, Sr. At the time, his son, Joe Thomas, Jr., was playing at linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. But dad was a running back who hung around with the squad at the University of South Carolina long enough that in 2016, he got in the game. He rushed for three yards in the first quarter of a game.
One of the oldest guy to ever play any kind of college football in the United States was a kicker named Tom Thompson. Back in the early ‘60s, he was the backup kicker on his high school team. In November 2009, he resumed the position for Division III school Austin College. At age 61, Thompson kicked an extra point during team’s 44 to 10 loss to Trinity.
Thompson shares his record with Alan Moore, a junior college kicker whose education was interrupted in 1969 by service in the Vietnam War. In 2011, after getting laid off, the then-61-year-old joined the squad of Faulkner University in Alabama.
In 2017, Donovan Tate was on the University of Arizona’s roster as a backup quarterback. His name might sound familiar to hardcore sports fans — way back in 2009, he was the overall number-three pick in the Major League Baseball draft. His career ended after a short stint in the minors, which included a 50-game suspension for violating a substance use policy. A year after he played his last minor league game in 2016, he went back to school…and joined the football team at age 26.