The wait is finally over for friends, fans and the family of the late great Derrick Thomas. Thomas was recently named to the 2014 class of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Thomas, a native of Miami, Fla., one of the Crimson Tide’s all-time great linebackers, played for head coaches Ray Perkins and Bill Curry from 1985-88. A unanimous All-America selection in 1988 and a two-time All-SEC selection in 1987 and 1988, Thomas is the 24th Alabama player or coach to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Thomas died at the age of 33, in 2000, after suffering a broken neck and back in an accident during a snow storm.
“Derrick Thomas’ career at Alabama is legendary,” UA Director of Athletics Bill Battle said. “One of the most dominant linebackers to ever play the position, he was a game-changing player who, to this day, more than 25 years after the close of his collegiate career, still owns several Crimson Tide records. We are proud and honored to see him inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, an organization with which The University of Alabama has a long and distinguished history.”
Thomas set an Alabama record for sacks and tackles for a loss in 1988 on his way to winning the Butkus Award, CBS’ Defensive Player of the Year and the Washington Pigskin Club’s Defensive Player of the Year.
As a senior in 1988, Thomas recorded 88 tackles with 39 tackles for a loss of 250 yards while registering 27 sacks for a loss of 204 yards. He recorded 18 sacks for 142 yards as a junior in 1987 along with 67 tackles. He finished his career with 204 tackles, 68 tackles for loss (465 yards), 52 sacks (408 yards), 10 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.
The Kansas City Chiefs selected Thomas with the fourth overall pick of the 1989 NFL Draft. He spent his entire 11-year career with the Chiefs and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
He’s just the fourth Alabama player to earn his way into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The others are receiver Don Hutson, guard John Hannah and tight end Ozzie Newsome.
It’s great that Thomas finally made it into the College Football Hall of Fame, but many are still asking the question: “What took so long?”

Always Wanted To Play For The Tide
Incoming freshman center J.C. Hassenauer recently arrived in Tuscaloosa with the distinction of being one of the few players from the state of Minnesota to ever play for the Crimson Tide. The 6-2 1/2, 306-pound Hassenauer, from East Ridge HS in Woodbury, is considered by some as the nation’s top center prospect.
“Believe it or not, playing for Alabama was his goal since day one,” says East Ridge head coach Mike Pendino. “Alabama is always where he’s wanted to play. I don’t know the exact reason, but that’s always been his priority — to go to Alabama and play football.”
Hassenauer is looking forward to getting to work on the field and in the classroom.
“He’s real excited,” Pendino says. “He’s ready to start school down there this summer. He’s going to be there a week and then he comes back home to walk through the graduation ceremony here. Then he’s headed right back down to Alabama.”
Since the end of football season, Hassenauer has spent many hours in the gym every day preparing for the start of summer workouts at UA.
“He’s about 306 pounds right now,” Pendino says. “He’s gotten stronger. He’s gotten bigger.
“He’s also been helping us here. We can’t work with our players this time of the year, so he’s working with our offensive linemen. He takes them out with him and works with them on different things. He’s done a great job with our young linemen.”
Hassenauer suffered a knee injury during his senior season that caused him some problems.
“It was nothing major, no ACL or any ligament damage at all, just a knee cap problem,” Pendino says. “It’s been completely taken care of. When he went down to Alabama, the doctors down there looked at it and everything has been taken care of. He’s fine and ready to go. He’s as good as new.”
So what kind of player is Alabama getting in Hassenauer?
“They’re getting a tough, physical kid that loves to play the game and doesn’t take no for an answer,” Pendino says. “He’s athletic and has long arms.”
“He’s going to start a bunch of games down there.”
NOTE: Alabama Media Relations contributed to the Derrick Thomas story.


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