From now until kickoff in Arlington, Texas, we'll be counting down the days before Alabama and Michigan get the season started. Today, we move to No. 52 and what it means to UA football. See all the previous editions here.
There are some records that are meant to be broken. And then there's Derrick Thomas' career sacks record. The 1988 Butkus Award winner had 52 sacks in his career at the University of Alabama. The next closest? Kindal Moorehead with 25.
To put that number into further perspective, Thomas had 27 sacks in one season in 1988. The season before, he had 17. Both his 1988 and 1987 seasons rank No. 1 and 2 in the Alabama record books. In fact, Thomas holds more than 10 UA records, including most sacks in one game (5) and most tackles for loss in a single game (7).
Thomas signed on to play at Alabama under coach Ray Perkins in 1985. He went on to be a unanimous All-American selection and finished 10th in the Heisman balloting in 1988.
The Kansas City Chiefs took Thomas with the fourth pick in the 1989 NFL draft. He spent his entire career with the organization, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year, two All-Pro selections and nine trips to the Pro Bowl. He was a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team and was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
Thomas passed away in 2000 after a car accident in Kansas City left him paralyzed. A blood clot claimed his life at age 33.
Had it not been for the NCAA's lack of defensive statistics before 2000, Thomas' sack record might be the best of all time. Currently, Arizona State's Terrell Suggs holds the records for a career (44) and single season (24).