|Height: 6-7 | Weight: 311 | College: Wisconsin|
Regarded by many as the best offensive lineman in college football, Thomas comes from a school deep in tradition in producing All-American offensive linemen. Ever since the days of Ray "Tubby" Keeler (1913) through Chris McIntosh (1999), the Badgers have been known for their blocking performances. Thomas is considered the most dominating blocker to wear a Wisconsin uniform since the days of Paul Gruber (1985-87), and joined Dennis Lick (1974-75) as the only Badgers offensive linemen to earn All-American accolades twice in a career.
While most offensive linemen are lumberjack types who occupy space, Thomas is much different than the normal mold you look for in a tackle. He has performed admirably as a tight end in short-yardage situations and excelled in goal-line duties on the defensive line.
Thomas is not only hailed for his exploits on the gridiron, but has also garnered national recognition for record-breaking performances in track and field. He was a 2005 second-team All-Big Ten Conference selection, as he qualified for the 20004 and '05 NCAA Regionals in the shot put and discus. He also holds the school indoor record in the shot put (62'1 1/4").
In 2006, Thomas became the first Wisconsin player to win the Outland Trophy. He also became the third Big Ten Conference player in four years to win the Outland Trophy, which goes to the top interior lineman in college football. Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery won the Outland in 2003 and Minnesota center Greg Eslinger captured it in 2005. In all, 13 players from current Big Ten schools have won the award.
"I was very excited to win the award," Thomas said. "A lot of emotion goes through your mind. It kind of hits you all at once. You kind of forget things for a couple of minutes. You're walking on Cloud Nine. All three of us (finalists) had a great shot of winning. All three of us were very deserving."
Thomas, who is projected as one of the top picks in the 2007 NFL Draft, was the mainstay of a Badger offensive line that paved the way for freshman running back P.J. Hill. The Badgers' offense was 21st in the country, scoring 30.3 points per game.
By winning the 61st Outland Trophy, he received a nice present three days after he turned 22. Two days later, he was engaged to Annie Nelson, a former Wisconsin basketball player.
Thomas was a Prep Star (first-team) and USA Today (second-team) All-American offensive lineman at Brookfield Central High School. He was rated the fourth-best offensive tackle in the nation according to Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report and ranked among top twenty offensive tackles nationally, top 25 players in the Midwest and was rated the third-best player in Wisconsin according to Rivals.com. Thomas added Detroit Free Press All-Midwest, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first-team All-State honors as a defensive lineman and second-team All-State accolades as an offensive tackle as a senior.
Thomas was also a first-team All-State defensive pick by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and Associated Press. He was chosen 2002 WFCA Defensive Player of the Year with fellow Badger Justin Ostrowski, as Thomas recorded 85 tackles and 12 quarterback sacks as a senior, adding 70 tackles and eight sacks his junior campaign. He was a three-time All-Conference selection in football, lettering four times in that sport.
He also lettered four times in both track and basketball. He captained the football and basketball teams his senior year and was a four-time Honor Roll student, in addition to garnering U.S. Army Academic All-American honors. In track, Thomas finished fifth in the national finals in the shot put as a junior. He earned All-Conference, All-Area and All-State recognition in both the shot put and discus.
Thomas enrolled at Wisconsin in 2003 and immediately provided key contributions. He was utilized most of the season as a blocking tight end, but shifted to left defensive end when injuries plagued the line. He produced seven tackles with a stop behind the line of scrimmage vs. Auburn in the Music City Bowl.
Thomas took over left offensive tackle duties from Morgan Davis in 2004. He earned Academic All-Big Ten Conference and All-District honors, adding honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition for his performance on the field. He graded 82.5 percent for blocking consistency, as he produced 13 touchdown-resulting blocks and 74 knockdowns, including 48 for the team's renowned rushing attack.
In the spring of 2005, Thomas set the school indoor track record in the shot put. On the football field, he came into his own as a blocker, earning second-team All-American and consensus All-Big Ten Conference first-team accolades. He led the nation's down linemen with an 87.1 percent grade for blocking consistency, as he also paced the NCAA Division 1-A blockers with an incredible 29 touchdown-resulting blocks (team had 53 touchdown drives on offense). He collected 110 knockdowns, making 19 crucial blocks down field and allowed only four quarterback sacks on 909 offensive plays.
The Draddy Award semifinalist continued his dominance in 2006. Thomas led the nation's down linemen with a 92 percent grade for blocking consistency. He produced 127 key blocks/knockdowns with 27 touchdown-resulting blocks and also recorded two solo tackles. He also delivered 21 down-field blocks.
In 47 games at Wisconsin, Thomas started 37 times at left offensive tackle and once on the defensive line. He registered 311 knockdown blocks with 69 of those stops resulting in Wisconsin touchdowns. He registered 56 of his blocks down field and graded 87.39 percent for blocking consistency. He also registered twelve tackles (five solos).
Positives: Has a developing frame that could carry at least another 20 pounds of bulk with no loss in quickness Possesses a thick upper body with broad shoulders, adequate muscle development, good arm length and strong hands Shows classic natural knee bend with good hip snap to redirect and mirror the edge rushers Nimble moving his feet in his pass set-up, retreating fluidly while maintaining body control Shows good urgency and leg drive coming off the snap, demonstrating the knee bend to drop his weight well pass protection Capable of locating and neutralizing the edge rushers Excels in the classroom, twice earning national academic honors and will have no problems digesting a complicated playbook Quick coming off the snap, gaining position and generating movement to sustain Shows very good in-line body control and agility, demonstrating a quick kick slide in pass protection Stays low in his pads, dropping his weight to maintain balance and does a nice job of opening rush lanes on pulls and traps With his quickness and balance, he consistently covers defenders up Has no problems getting his body low enough to attain leverage, especially with his impressive knee bend Plays well on his feet and possesses the lateral agility and quickness to adjust and sustain blocks on the move Quick and agile enough to generate solid second level blocks and works hard to maintain the rushing crease (193 of his 311 knockdown blocks came in run support) Runs his feet well and has a good base with a very good understanding of taking proper angles when working along the perimeter Has exceptional knee bend and hip flexibility in his retreat and shows good patience waiting for the defender to attack His lateral slide lets him reach his cutoff point and readjust when working on the edge His pass drop quickness lets him generate the depth needed to anchor Demonstrates the footwork and balance to stay on his feet, move around and handle switch-offs Takes good angles to cut off at the second level and has the flexibility to adjust and pickup coverages working down the field Has that sudden burst off the line to gain advantage when positioning in-line and the quickness to reach the second level Explosive hip roller who has the upper body strength to push and wall off Shows vastly improved hand placement to jolt and control the defender Plays on his feet and is an aggressive finisher Can quickly gain position off the snap and takes good angles to cut off the second level defenders Very effective when used on long pulls due to his speed and hip snap Has the balance and agility to quickly slide and get to his reach point.
Negatives: Used to be inconsistent with his hands, but showed good improvement in 2006, throwing his hands with much quicker timing and learned to use his reach to press and keep the defender at bay Has a strong punch to shock and jolt his opponent, but must do it with more consistency Must bring his arms up quicker when punching, but he showed better consistency in 2006 in using his hands to gain position and replace in pass protection.
Compares To: JORDAN GROSS-Carolina Not since the days of Paul Gruber (1985-87) has Wisconsin had such a complete player at the left tackle position. Thomas is similar to Gross in that they use a great combination of quickness, field awareness and athletic agility to dominate on second level blocks. Gross struggled a bit at left tackle, but Thomas is athletic enough to have great success in one-on-one confrontations vs. edge rushers and blitzers.
In 47 games at Wisconsin, Thomas started 37 contests at left offensive tackle and one at left defensive end Registered 311 knockdown blocks, with 193 coming in run support Joe was credited with 69 touchdown-resulting blocks and made 56 blocks down field He was only penalized three times on 2,571 offensive plays and has amassed an 87.39 percent grade for blocking consistency Thomas also recorded 12 tackles (5 solos) with a stop for a 2-yard loss and two quarterback pressures on defense In 2005, Thomas became the seventh Wisconsin offensive tackle to earn All-American honors in the last 50 years, joining Dan Lamphear (1959, the team's first left tackle to earn national honors), Dennis Lick (team's only two-time winner; 1974-75), Ray Snell (1979), Paul Gruber (1987), Aaron Gibson (1998) and Chris McIntosh (1999) Thomas is only the fifth player in school history to be a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award (2005-06) and only the second to receive that recognition twice in a career, given to the nation's outstanding college lineman, joining Aaron Gibson (1998 finalist), Wendell Bryant (2000-01 semifinalist) and Erasmus James (2004 finalist) In 2006, Thomas became the first Wisconsin player to win the Outland Trophy (nation's top lineman) and the first offensive lineman since Chris McIntosh in 1999 to earn Associated Press All-American first-team honors In track, Thomas holds the school indoor record in the shot put with a 62'01" toss in 2005, topping the old mark of 61'07" by Jeff Braun in March, 1979 His career-best outdoor shot put throw of 62'05" rank fourth on the school's record books behind Anders Holmstrom (63'09" in May, 2000), Jeff Braun (63'02" in June, 1979) and Paul Belke (62'06" in June, 1992) His career-best outdoor discus toss of 178'0" ranks sixth in school history, topped only by Pete Leach (186'0" in April, 1992), Anders Holmstrom (185'04" in May, 2000), Clint Englund (184'09") in May, 1990), Rob Salamo (181'03" in April, 2000) and Dave Niemuth (179'11" in May, 1983) Thomas also excelled in the classroom, twice earning ESPN Academic All-District V and Academic All-Big Ten Conference honors.
Thomas was a unanimous All-American first-team selection, receiving honors from The NFL Draft Report, The Sporting News, Associated Press, ESPN, the Football Writers Association, Walter Camp Foundation, American Football Coaches Association and Sports Illustrated The team captain was also the recipient of the National Scholar-Athlete Postgraduate Scholarship ($18,000) from the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame He added ESPN Academic All-American second-team, Academic All-District first-team from CoSIDA and Academic All-Big Ten Conference first-team honors Was also a finalist for the Draddy Trophy, the National Football Foundation's academic award (college football's top scholar-athlete) Thomas became the school's first player to win the Outland Trophy He was a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy (community service, academic and athletic achievement) and a semi-finalist for the Lombardi Award The team captain was also the Badgers' Most Valuable Player Thomas led NCAA Division 1-A blockers with a 92.0% grade for blocking consistency, producing 127 knockdowns/key blocks with 27 touchdown-resulting blocks and 21 blocks down field He also recorded a pair of solo tackles Joe graded at least 90% in nine contests and had double-digit knockdowns in eight of those games.
|2006 Game Analysis|
Bowling Green Thomas opened the season in fine fashion, grading 94% for blocking consistency, as he made a pair of touchdown-resulting blocks and seventeen knockdowns as the offense generated 321 yards in a 35-14 victory Joe upended defensive end Jacob Hardwick to spring Badgers running back Dyon Rowan for a 7-yard scoring scamper that capped a 10-play, 66-yard drive in the first quarter Late in the second quarter, QB John Stocco used his left tackle to clear a rush lane for a 1-yard touchdown run on a third-and-goal bootleg Later in the third quarter, Thomas picked up the blitz, taking down middle linebacker John Haneline to give Stocco time to find Bill Rentmeester with a 4-yard touchdown pass that completed a 9-play, 75-yard drive Joe talked about the team's opening day victory, stating, "I was really happy with the way our running backs played today. They ran really hard, especially PJ (Hill). He looked great out there." Head to Head Competition-DE#58-Jacob Hardwick-No tackles (note-Hardwick had a tackle for a 1-yard loss late in the fourth quarter, but Thomas and the starting unit were not on the field for that play).
Western Illinois Thomas collected six knockdowns for a ground game that picked up 139 yards, coming up with four touchdown-resulting blocks while grading 96%, as he helped freshman tailback P.J. Hill run for 101 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-0 shutout Hill credited Thomas for his success, saying, "It felt good to get three touchdowns, but it was all due to Joe clearing the lanes for me" said Hill. "I just had to go out here and play my game and put some points on the board so we could come up on top." Hill capped a pair of seven-minute scoring drives in the second quarter with one-yard touchdown runs. The first followed a 14-play, 83-yard drive that gave Wisconsin a 10-3 lead, as Joe simply flattened nose guard Chad Groenhagen on the play A 14-play, 81-yard drive resulted in Hill's second touchdown and a 17-3 lead, as Thomas took down defensive end Buck Townsend and defensive tackle Darron Boone to clear a huge hole used by Hill Badgers' safety Joe Stellmacher intercepted Leatherneck quarterback Steve LaFalce in the end zone on the first drive of the half. Four plays and 40 yards later, Hill ran in from two yards out to extend the lead to 27-3, as Thomas flattened middle linebacker Jerome Bennett to lead the charge Andy Crooks caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from QB John Stocco on the Badgers' next possession for Wisconsin's final score of the game, as Thomas provided Stocco with ample [protection, holding off strong-side linebacker Josh Hollie as the Wisconsin passer hid behind his left tackle to complete the throw Of the 366 yards gained by the Badgers, 277 came over the left side of the line Head to Head Competition-DE#15-Buck Townsend-Two tackles (1 solo) (note-Townsend had one assisted tackle late in the game, but Thomas and the first unit were not on the field).
San Diego State Facing cat-quick defensive end Nick Osborn, Thomas still posted six knockdowns, including one that resulted in a touchdown and made three down field blocks as tailback P.J. Hill ran for 184 yards and a score - a 53-yarder in the third quarter - and Wisconsin's defense did the rest in a 14-0 victory Hill set up the Badgers most of the day, but had to open scoring himself by spinning out of Nick Osborn's tackle thanks to a block from Thomas and sprinting down the right sideline for a 53-yard score midway through the third quarter In the fourth quarter, the Badgers put the game out of reach when a 48-yard run by Dywon Rowan set up QB John Stocco for a 6-yard touchdown toss to Paul Hubbard with 7:06 left, as Thomas upended defensive tackle Jonathan Bailes and held off Osborn long enough for Stocco to lob the pass into the end zone The Badgers finished the day with 287 yards rushing, gaining 212 of those yards over the left side of the line Head to Head Competition-DE#94-Nick Osborn-Five tackles (2 solos).
Michigan The ground game struggled to pick up 12 yards on 27 tries in a 27-13 loss, but Thomas posted seven knockdowns and did not allow any tackles on the way to earning Badger Player of the Game honors while grading 95% The Wolverines defense held the Badgers to six straight three-and-outs to begin the second half, and Michigan tallied four sacks Thomas leveled linebacker David Harris to spring tailback P.J. Hill for a 16-yard scamper, followed by another timely block that held off defensive end Rondell Biggs long enough for QB John Stocco to hit Hill with a 29-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter Joe later took the legs out from under defensive tackle Alan Branch on Stocco's second-and-3 pass to Travis Beckum that netted 12 yards on a fourth quarter drive that concluded with a 26-yard field goal by Taylor Mehlhaff Head to Head Competition-DE#91-Rondell Biggs-no tackles, one pass deflection.
Indiana Joe graded 96%, as he registered nine knockdowns with three touchdown-resulting blocks as the offense amassed 539 yards in a 52-17 win Behind Thomas's punishing blocks, the Badgers scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions in the first half, resulting in a 35-0 halftime lead For the second week in a row, Wisconsin jumped out with an early touchdown. After the teams traded punts to open the game, UW took over on its own 11-yard line. The Badgers proceeded on their longest drive of the season, going 89 yards in 10 plays, culminating in P.J. Hill's one-yard touchdown run, as Joe took down defensive tackle Joe Kremer to create the hole used by the talented tail-back. The key play in the drive was a 42-yard completion from John Stocco to Paul Hubbard, giving UW first-and-goal from the 5-yard line, as Thomas picked up the blitz, holding off linebacker Geno Johnson and safety Troy Grosfield to protect the Badgers QB. Three carries later, Hill found the end zone. It was the first of five-straight touchdown drives for Wisconsin Later in the first quarter, Thomas leveled defensive end Kenny Kendal to spring Hill for a 25-yard burst to midfield. Two plays later, Joe stepped inside to upend linebacker Adam McClurg as Stocco flipped a 35-yard scoring strike to Travis Beckum to cap a 4-play, 73-yard drive Thomas was not finished in his quest to get the team into the end zone. Stocco hid behind his left tackle to throw a 58-yard sideline pass to Luke Swan and Joe then finished the 79-yard, 6-play drive when he blasted a pair of defenders into the end zone, with P.J. Hill following for another 1-yard touchdown run with 1:52 left in the first half Head to Head Competition-DE#92-Kenny Kendal-Two solo tackles.
Northwestern Thomas produced twelve key blocks, including nine for a ground game that totaled 307 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-14 defeat of Northwestern Joe made his presence felt from the outset, making a key block along the line and then moved to the second level to take down linebacker Nick Roach, paving the way for tailback P.J. Hill's 60-yard scoring burst on Wisconsin's second play of the game The left tackle was penalized for only the second time during his career when he was called for holding after springing QB John Stocco for a 4-yard run on the team's next drive and miscommunication between Thomas and Andy Kemp saw defensive end Corey Wootton slip through left guard and tackle to sack Stocco for a 1-yard loss as time ran out in the first half Thomas came out of the tunnel for the third quarter as if he was breathing fire. He shoved Wootton to the ground on Hill's 12-yard run and then held off a pair of defenders as Stocco threw a 17-yard pass to Dywon Rowan. Joe then capped a 10-play, 73-yard drive when he crashed into Wootton and defensive tackle John Gill, with Rowan following his left tackle on a third-and-1 run for a 4-yard touchdown with 1:22 left in the third quarter Head to Head Competition-DE#99-Corey Wootton-Five tackles (3 solos), a 1-yard sack.
Minnesota Thomas punished the Gophers defensive line, as he collected twelve key blocks, including three that produced touchdowns and graded 93%. Because of Thomas' blocking, quarterback John Stocco tied his career high with four touchdown passes as the 25th-ranked Badgers defeated rival Minnesota, 48-12, in front of a homecoming crowd of over 82,000 fans Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. It was the sixth consecutive win for Wisconsin at home against Minnesota, as UW retained the Paul Bunyan Axe for the third year in a row As has been his procedure all year, Thomas wasted no time making his presence felt. Defensive tackle Todd Meisel was unfortunate to be in the way of Joe, as the left tackle steamrolled the down lineman to clear a path for a 12-yard pickup by P.J. Hill. Hill would then rip off a 9-yard run around left end and Thomas then stopped linebacker Mario Reese from getting to Stocco on the QB's third-and-12 pass to Luke Swan for 11 yards. Hill then followed Thomas as the Badger blocker leveled defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg to clear a path used by the Wisconsin tailback for a 28-yard run on a fourth-and-1 play. Hill then gained the final five yards for a touchdown, as Joe pushed VanDeSteeg out of the way, capping a 10-play, 87-yard early first quarter drive Thomas opened a hole for Hill's 8-yard run and then took down Todd Meisel as Stocco lobbed a 2-yard scoring pass to tight end Andy Crooks midway through the second quarter Early in the third quarter, Thomas alertly retreated inside to crush middle linebacker Mike Sherels on a 40-yard touchdown toss from Stocco to Travis Beckum Head to Head Competition-DE#91-Willie VanDeSteeg-Four tackles (3 solos-note-VanDeSteeg registered a stop for a 2-yard loss over the Wisconsin center, not over left tackle).
Purdue Thomas registered fifteen knockdowns, including twelve that assisted the running game that gained 241 yards with three touchdowns, as Joe made two of those touchdown-resulting blocks and posted a crucial tackle on an interception return to lead Wisconsin to a 24-3 win For the first time in 2006, Thomas did not have a key block on a first quarter touchdown drive, but made up for that slight when he blasted defensive end Anthony Spencer to the ground on a 12-yard run by Lance Smith, took down Spencer again to give QB John Stocco time to fire a third-and-5 pass to Luke Swan for 27 yards down to the Purdue 4 and then registered his "hat trick" with his third knockdown of Spencer, clearing the way for P.J. Hill's 1-yard touchdown run that finished an 89-yard, 11-play drive midway through the second quarter Stocco rolled left to hide behind Thomas on the QB's 19-yard pass to Travis Beckum, but on third-and-7, the Badgers quarterback was intercepted by Ryan Baker. Baker gained 11 yards on the return before Thomas tackled him at midfield In the third quarter, Joe was his usual ornery self, tossing aside Spencer on Stocco's 10-yard third-and-2 option run, followed by Thomas taking down linebacker Dan Bick on Stocco's third-and-7 pass that was hauled in for a 25-yard gain by Paul Hubbard. Joe then fired off the snap to drive defensive tackle Ryan Baker into two other Boilermakers, opening a hole used by Hill for a 3-yard touchdown run that capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive Head to Head Competition-DE#49-Anthony Spencer-Three solo tackles, one stop for a 2-yard loss.
Illinois When tailback P.J. Hill left the game early with an injury, the offense seemed to lose its momentum, but Joe took the starting unit to task along the sidelines, urging them to play to their ability. That little "pep talk" rallied the team, as the Badgers overcame a surprisingly effective Illini defense to pile up 20 unanswered points in the second half to squeak out a 30-24 decision. Thomas was credited with thirteen key blocks, with nine coming on pass protection, finishing with a pair of touchdown-resulting blocks and a 91% grade Hill's replacement, tailback Lance Smith told reporters after the game, "[John] Stocco has good leadership but Joe Thomas has a lot to do with that too. I mean he told us to keep our heads on straight, pound the ball and take it one play at a time." And that is what Wisconsin did, with a little help from their defense, which held the Fighting Illini to 86 yards in the final 30 minutes Prior to halftime, Thomas cleared a rush lane used by Smith for a 10-yard gain after Joe had knocked down defensive tackle Chris Norwell on the previous play to give QB John Stocco time to throw a 32-yarder to Travis Beckum. Smith then raced around left end on second-and-1 for a 2-yard gain and a first down. After two failed attempts by Smith to get into the end zone over the right side of the line, Thomas pushed, shoved and clawed his way through the pile, opening a hole for the young runner's 1-yard scoring plunge that concluded a 76-yard, 11-play drive with 1:44 left in the second quarter Thomas upended defensive end Doug Pilcher on Stocco's 33-yard pass to Luke Swan in the third quarter, but Pilcher then slipped through the line at left guard to tackle tailback Dywon Rowan for a 1-yard loss on a third-and-1 play In the fourth quarter, Thomas then sparked a 51-yard drive with three key blocks, including one that stopped linebacker Brit Miller in his tracks on Stocco's 21-yard pass to tight end Andy Crooks. Crooks fumbled the screen pass at the goal line, but recovered the pigskin. After a review by the officials, the touchdown stood and Wisconsin went on to a 30-24 win Head to Head Competition-DE#95-Doug Pilcher-Three tackles (2 solos-note-Picher added a stop for a 1-yard loss over left guard).
Penn State Joe registered nine knockdowns, including one that produced the team's only touchdown in a 13-3 victory, as he paved the way for P.J. Hill, as the tailback rushed for 148 yards On a late first quarter drive, Thomas leveled linebacker Dan Connor on Hill's 10-yard scamper over left tackle. Joe then held off Connor from getting to QB John Stocco on a second-and-5 pass to Xavier Harris to set up Taylor Mehlhaff's 37-yard field goal that ended a 60-yard, 10-play drive Stocco hid behind his massive left tackle and Thomas held off two defenders from getting to his passer, as the Badgers QB fired a 26-yard sideline toss to Paul Hubbard. Stocco repeated that play on third-and-10, as Joe took down defensive end Tim Shaw to let Stocco find Hubbard with a 14-yard scoring pass with 0:23 left in the first half Late in the third quarter, Thomas was penalized for only the third time in his career, when he was called for holding, negating an 11-yard catch by tight end Andy Crooks Thomas made up for that miscue when he tackled Sean Lee after the linebacker recovered a fumble by Stocco, taking down the PSU defender at the Wisconsin 40 after a 7-yard return Head to Head Competition-DE#47-Josh Gaines-Four tackles (2 solos), 0.5 pressure.
Iowa Thomas collected thirteen key blocks, including two that resulted in touchdowns while posting three more timely hits down field to help the Badgers hold off Iowa for a 24-21 win With the victory, coach Bret Bielema became the first Big Ten coach to win ten games in his rookie year Late in the first quarter, QB Tyler Donovan rolled out to hide behind Thomas, who leveled defensive tackle Mitch King, giving Donovan time to lob a 3-yard scoring pass to Travis Beckum Donovan then gained 5 yards on a third-and-4 run, thanks to Joe taking down linebacker Mike Humpal on the play. On a third-and-11 pass, Thomas held off Humpal again as Donovan fired a 48-yarder to Luke Swan. Joe then cleared a rush lane used by tailback P.J. Hill for a 1-yard scoring run that finished the 15-play, 97-yard drive early in the fourth quarter Head to Head Competition-DE#96-Alex Kanellis-One solo tackle, one stop for a 1-yard loss.
Buffalo Thomas produced ten knockdowns, including three touchdown-resulting blocks in the first half, closing out the regular season with a 98% blocking grade in a 35-3 win that gave UW its first-ever 11-win regular season and ties the school record for wins in a season. Wisconsin went 11-1 in the Rose Bowl season of 1998. The Badgers were 7-0 at home this season for the first time since 1898 and won eight straight games dating back to the Michigan contest in September After Wisconsin intercepted a Buffalo pass on the game's first play from scrimmage, Joe and the Wisconsin offense got right to work. Thomas planted linebacker Ollice Ervin into the ground with a crunching forearm blast as QB Tyler Donovan fired a 26-yard touchdown pass to Phil Hubbard less than one minute into the contest Later in the opening stanza, tailback P.J. Hill capped a 6-play, 80-yard drive by running around his left tackle for a 3-yard score Donovan used an option run around left tackle, with Thomas leading the way, for an 11-yard pickup and Joe then took down defensive end James Judges on the Badger QB's 35-yard touchdown pass to Luke Swan with 0:27 left in the first half Head to Head Competition-DE#91-James Judges-One solo tackle.
Thomas earned first-team All-American honors from The NFL Draft Report and Pro Football Weekly, adding second-team accolades from the Walter Camp Foundation and Sports Illustrated The Lombardi Award semi-finalist was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten Conference choice He added Academic All-Big Ten and ESPN Academic All-District V accolades Thomas started every game at left offensive tackle, earning Player of the Game honors vs. Bowling Green and Penn State In 909 plays, he graded higher for blocking consistency (87.1%) than any Division 1-A offensive tackle Joe registered 110 knockdowns and had key blocks on 29 of the team's 53 touchdown drives He posted nineteen down-field blocks and allowed five sacks for the year He also recorded three solo tackles, but suffered a right knee anterior cruciate ligament tear while playing on the defensive line vs. Auburn in the Capital One Bowl Thomas' stellar blocking resulted in the team averaging 396.5 yards per game in total offense.
|2005 Game Analysis|
Bowling Green Thomas dominated the action in the trenches in the team's season opener, grading 96% for blocking consistency while registering twelve knockdowns, including three down field and made three touchdown-resulting blocks, as junior tailback Brian Calhoun tied a school record with five scoring runs in a 56-42 win The Badgers and Falcons combined to score 98 points, the most since 1890. Wisconsin put up 504 yards of offense, which included 388 rushing yards (301 over the left side of the line). In addition to Calhoun's 258-yard effort, Booker Stanley added 103 yards of his own on 14 carries After defensive end Devon Parks slipped past Thomas on a third-and-2 play to tackle fullback Matt Bernstein on a 1-yard run, Joe blasted a huge hole used by Brian Calhoun on a fourth-and-1 burst for a 20-yard scoring scamper with 7:32 left in the first half Early in the third quarter, Thomas delivered timely blocks on Calhoun's 12 & 13-yard runs and on 13 & 16-yard burst by Booker Stanley, followed by a crunching block that stopped middle line-backer Teddy Piepkow and defensive tackle Monte Cooley on Calhoun's second-and-goal 1-yard touch-down plunge that capped a 66-yard, 8-play drive On the Badgers' next drive, Thomas led the way on a 9-yard run by Stanley that set up Stanley's 15-yard scoring run, as Joe shoved defensive end Brad Williams to the ground on that play Head to Head Competition-DE#57-Devon Parks-Six tackles (4 solos).
Temple Thomas continued to control the action in the trenches, as he delivered fourteen knockdowns and graded 95%, posting four touchdown-resulting blocks before leaving the game 6:28 before half time, as Wisconsin picked up its eighth-consecutive home victory with a 65-0 shutout The Badgers' 65 points were the second-most in the modern era in school history. Wisconsin allowed Temple just 45 yards of total offense, the lowest in school history. The previous low was 71 yards of offense by California in 1946. The UW offense registered 492 offensive yards in the winning effort, including 263 rushing Early in the first quarter, Joe held off defensive end Mike Mendenhall on QB John Stocco's 6-yard scoring strike to Owen Daniels and later in the second quarter, Daniels caught a 15-yard touchdown toss as Stocco rolled left, hid behind Thomas and found Daniels in the corner of the end zone Joe also barreled his way into the end zone with tailback Brian Calhoun following on a third-and-goal run for a 1-yard touchdown Head to Head Competition-DE#89-Rodney Wormley-Three tackles (2 solos) (note-Wormley added two more tackles later in the game with Thomas and the first unit resting on the sidelines).
North Carolina Thomas delivered two key touchdown-resulting blocks among his nine knockdowns while holding sack specialist Tommy Davis to only two tackles, leading the way as tailback Brian Calhoun did it again for Wisconsin, rushing for 171 yards and two scores (behind Joe's blocks) in a gritty 14-5 triumph over penalty-prone North Carolina, as Joe finished the day with a 89% grade The Badgers hardly put up the gaudy numbers they have become accustomed to this season, but it was enough to make them 3-0 for the third time in four seasons. Calhoun carried the ball 38 times and continued his impressive start, giving him 471 yards so far in his first season after transferring from Colorado Few of his runs were pretty, yet they were effective enough to hand the Tar Heels another close loss. Calhoun's best efforts came on consecutive plays midway through the fourth quarter, a 26-yard run to move the Badgers down to the North Carolina 32, as Thomas upended defensive tackle Chase Page on the play, and a 14-yarder to get it even closer, with Joe out front with a key block around left end. Three plays later on fourth-and-1, Calhoun followed Thomas into the end zone, as he scampered in from the 4 for his final touchdown to make it 14-3 and put the game out of reach Head to Head Competition-DE#80-Tommy Davis-Two tackles (one solo).
Michigan Joe produced only five knockdowns, but two of them resulted in Badger touchdowns, including one on QB John Stocco's 4-yard touchdown run with 24 seconds remaining that gave Wisconsin a 23-20 win over No. 13 Michigan in the Big Ten opener at Camp Randall Stadium Running back Brian Calhoun, who entered the game leading the nation in rushing, carried the ball 35 times for 155 yards and also posted his ninth score of the year It was the first victory over Michigan for the Badger program since 1994. The win also marked the ninth-consecutive home win for the Badgers, tying a school record that was last accomplished during the 1960s Following a Michigan punt, Wisconsin, trailing 20-16, received the ball on its own 48-yard line with 4:29 to play in the game. The Badgers marched 52 yards in 4:04, highlighted by 20 rushing and 19 receiving yards by Calhoun during the drive. Stocco capped the drive with a score from 4 yards out on third-and-goal when Thomas smashed into defensive end Patrick Massey, clear the rush lane used by the Badgers QB Wisconsin tallied 21 first downs in the winning effort and totaled 287 yards of offense. Wisconsin also entered the game as the Big Ten's leader in time of possession and had the ball for 34:31 compared to Michigan's 25:29 Calhoun's 6-yard scoring run was the result of Thomas flipping defensive tackle Alan Branch out of the way. It made up for Calhoun's failure to score on a third-and-4 run that netted only three yards late in the first quarter Head to Head Competition-DT#94-Patrick Massey-Four assisted tackles.
Indiana The Hoosiers blitzed on nearly every other down, but Joe was up to the task, registering nine knockdowns vs. Indiana's defensive end tandem of Victor Adeyanju and Ben Ishola, as Thomas was also credited with three touchdown-resulting blocks, letting the 17th-ranked Wisconsin football team post its tenth consecutive home win with a 41-24 victory. The streak is the longest in school history in the modern era In the first quarter, Joe leveled Adeyanju on a 47-yard bomb from QB John Stocco to Jonathan Orr that set up Stocco's 17-yard scoring toss to Brandon Williams (Thomas took down nose guard Russ Richardson on that play) Late in the second quarter, Thomas cleared a rush lane used by tailback Brian Calhoun for a 17-yard scamper and then Joe executed a chop block to bring down rush end Ben Ishola on Calhoun's 1-yard touchdown run that ended a 6-play, 81-yard drive with 0:20 left in the first half Ishola would get a bit of revenge when he slipped though the left side of Wisconsin's front wall to sack Stocco for a 6-yard loss at the start of the third quarter In the fourth quarter, Thomas retreated into the backfield to pick up the blitz, upending linebacker Josh Moore on Stocco's 22-yard scoring pass to Jonathan Orr Head to Head Competition-DE#94-Victor Adeyanju-One assisted tackle (note-DE#99-Ben Ishola also registered a 6-yard sack on a stunt off left end).
Northwestern Northwestern beat 14th-ranked Wisconsin, 51-48, and handed the Badgers their first loss of the 2005 season, despite having Thomas deliver a pair of touchdown-resulting blocks and ten knockdowns while grading 88% for blocking consistency The Wildcats scored on seven-straight possessions and finished with a school-record 674 yards of total offense against a Wisconsin defense that had allowed an average of 336.8
The Badgers recovered a fumble by Northwestern halfback Tyrell Sutton near midfield and Badgers QB John Stocco then completed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Orr to pull the Badgers to 51-48 with 2:48 remaining, as Joe gave Stocco time to uncork that pass when he took down defensive tackle Barry Cofield on the play The teams combined for three touchdowns in the final 2:22 of the quarter, starting with Wildcat QB Brett Basanez's 52-yard touchdown pass to Kim Thompson that made it 30-20, but Wisconsin answered with a 1-yard touchdown run by Brian Calhoun behind Joe over the left side of the field that pulled the Badgers to within three A 27-yard pass from Stocco to Brandon Williams midway through the fourth quarter was negated when Thomas was flagged for holding (only penalty by Joe during his career at Wisconsin) 161 of the team's 189 yards on the ground came over the left side of the line Head to Head Competition-DE#95-Kevin Mims-Three assisted tackles.
Minnesota Down 34-31 with less than one minute remaining, the University of Wisconsin football team got a huge break when freshman Jonathan Casillas blocked Minnesota's punt and Ben Strickland recovered it in the end zone for the Badgers' go-ahead touch-down and eventual 38-34 victory at the Metrodome. Thomas manhandled the Gophers' defensive line as he registered a season-high fifteen knockdowns, with three of those blocks resulting in touchdowns for the Badgers, finishing the day with a 94% grade
Joe got the offense rolling late in the first quarter when he crashed into defensive end Keith Lipka to give Stocco time to fire a 38-yard sideline toss to Jonathan Orr that set up the Badgers' 1-yard touchdown run by Brian Calhoun, as the tailback followed Thomas into the end zone on that run to cap a 7-play, 68-yard drive Midway through the third quarter, Joe opened a hole for Calhoun's 10-yard burst, then did the same for Booker Stanley's 7-yard scamper. Joe was not done coming up with key blocks, upending linebacker John Shevlin on Calhoun's 17-yard score that finished the 11-play, 69-yard drive Thomas then displayed his pass blocking technique with a timely block on safety Domonic Jones that killed a blitz on Stocco's 24-yard flag pass to Brandon Williams on a third-and-3 play and Joe then took down defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery as Stocco completed the 71-yard, 7-play drive with a 21-yard touchdown to Williams Head to Head Competition-DE#92-Steve Davis-Three assisted tackles.
Purdue Brandon Williams became UW's all-time leader in career receptions and the Badger defense forced five turnovers en route to a 31-20 win over Purdue, but Wisconsin's offensive line could not contain the Purdue defense, as the Boilermakers held the UW ground game to 63 yards on 36 carries (1.8 avg), caused two fumbles and posted three sacks, including a 4-yarder by Joe's coverage assignment, defensive end Rob Ninkovich. The win gave Wisconsin its 11th-consecutive home victory, the longest home winning streak in the modern era and the fifth-longest in the country On the game's first play from scrimmage, Ninkovich beat Thomas and pressured QB John Stocco, who threw an incomplete pass intended for receiver Brandon Williams He picked off Stocco's pass with 3:44 left in the first half and returned it 8 yards, but Williams was penalized for a personal foul on the play (late hit on Ninkovich), putting the ball in position for Purdue's Ben Jones to kick a 24-yard field with 0:56 left before halftime In the third quarter, Rob sacked Stocco for a 4-yard loss on a third-and-12 play and the Badgers then attempted a failed 50-yard field goal On Wisconsin's next drive, Ninkovich tackled fullback Jarvis Minton for a 5-yard loss Thomas did take Ninkovich down on an 8-yard bootleg by Stocco and later in that 7-play, 85-yard drive, Joe stopped Ninkovich from getting to Stocco before the QB could hit Brian Calhoun with a 23-yard touchdown toss early in the first quarter After Ninkovich stopped Jarvis Minton behind the line of scrimmage, Joe held off the All-Big Ten defender to let Stocco roll left and unleash a 40-yard scoring pass that Calhoun hauled in to end a third quarter 63-yard drive Head to Head Competition-DE#93-Rob Ninkovich-Five tackles (3 solos), a 4-yard sack, two stops for minus 9 yards, two pressures, a pass deflection and an 8-yard interception return.
Illinois The Badgers piled up 464 yards, including 239 rushing, as the team scored five times (by Brian Calhoun) on the ground. Thomas helped the rushing attack with three touchdown-resulting blocks, as the offense totaled 209 of those rushing yards over the left side of the line, where Joe also produced nine knockdowns and three downfield blocks as Wisconsin defeated Illinois 41-24 at Memorial Stadium. Thomas graded 90% for blocking consistency With 197 yards on the ground, Calhoun notched his seventh 100-yard rushing game of the year for the 15th-ranked Badgers His last touchdown run, which went for 46 yards on the first play from scrimmage late in the fourth quarter, as Thomas upended linebacker Britt Miller down field to clear away the final obstacle for his tailback's scoring jaunt Joe took down defensive end Derek Walker on Calhoun's game-opening 6-yard touchdown, leading the sweep over the right side of the field, but Walker would later slip past Thomas to pressure QB John Stocco on a third-and-9 incomplete pass to Booker Stanley late in the first quarter, forcing the Badgers to punt Thomas made up for the miscue by leveling defensive tackle Ryan Matha as Stocco rolled out to uncork a 62-yard scoring toss to Brandon Williams Head to Head Competition-DE#91-Derek Walker-One assisted tackle, one QB pressure.
Penn State The Badgers were soundly beaten by Penn State, 35-14, in a match-up of teams tied for first place in the Big Ten Conference. Thomas posted two down field blocks, including one that resulted in a touchdown to share Badger Offensive Player of the Game honors, but did allow two assisted sacks totaling minus 10 yards Defensive ends Tamba Hali and Matthew Rice converged on QB John Stocco in the second quarter for minus 13 yards Later in the third quarter, a break-down in coverage between left guard and tackle saw Rice and defensive tackle Jay Alford team up to sack Stocco for a 9-yard loss on a third-and-12 play, forcing Wisconsin to punt At the start of the fourth quarter, Thomas leveled All-American linebacker Paul Posluszny on Stocco's 20-yard sideline toss to Brandon Williams and repeated that process on Stocco's 26-yarder to Jonathan Orr. Joe continued to provide pass protection for Stocco, taking down Rice on the Badger QB's third-and-7 pass to Brandon White that netted 26 yards down to the PSU 1-yard line. From there, Thomas cleared a path used by Brian Calhoun for a 1-yard touchdown run that capped a 7-play, 89-yard drive with 12:27 left to play Head to Head Competition-DE#55-Matthew Rice-Six tackles (5 assists), one sack for minus 10 yards.
Iowa Wisconsin fell to Iowa 20-10 in Barry Alvarez's final game as head coach at Camp Randall Stadium. A record crowd of 83,184 was on-hand to say goodbye to the 16-year mentor. Thomas came up with three knockdowns during the team's mid-first quarter scoring drive, taking down defensive tackle Matt Kroul on an 8-yard run off left tackle by Brian Calhoun, followed by a crunching hit on linebacker Chad Greenway to give QB John Stocco time to throw a third-and-5 screen pass to Brian Calhoun for a 20-yard gain and then held off middle linebacker Abdul Hodge as Stocco lobbed a 17-yard touchdown to Brandon Williams Head to Head Competition-DE#99-Bryan Mattison-Two solo tackles, one stop for a 1-yard loss.
Hawaii Wisconsin defeated Hawaii, 41-24, in the final regular season game for the Badgers under head coach Barry Alvarez. The win gave UW its sixth nine-win season under Alvarez. In a textbook blocking performance, Thomas graded 98% for consistency, as he collected twelve knockdowns, including eight for the rushing game that totaled 249 yards, as he made touchdown-resulting blocks on all three of the team's scores by the Badger ground attack. Tailback Brian Calhoun ran for 149 yards, including 133 in the first half, and scored the first touchdown of the game on a 10-yard run at the 6:12 mark of the first half, as Joe took down defensive end Renolds Fruean on the play. It was Calhoun's 21st rushing touchdown of the season, tying Ron Dayne's school record set in 1999 QB
John Stocco and Jonathan Orr hooked up for the first of their two touchdown passes just over two minutes later, the first of 17 unanswered points for UW. On Stocco's second scoring pass to Orr, a 23-yarder on a third-and-6 play at the 2:18 mark of the second quarter, Thomas leveled linebacker Tanavasa Moe to protect his quarterback and put the Badgers up 24-7 Hawaii cut the lead to 27-17 when QB Colt Brennan threw an 8-yard touchdown. Wisconsin had an answer again, though, as Stocco scored from 1-yard out on a bootleg on a fourth-and-goal play when the Badgers QB slipped through Thomas and left guard Matt Lawrence to cap a 12-play, 74-yard drive that ate up 6:32 Record Watch-Thomas' 98% grade for blocking consistency was the highest by a Badgers offensive lineman since Paul Gruber first scored that mark vs. Ball State in 1987 Head to Head Competition-DE#97-Renolds Fruean-One assisted tackle.
Auburn (Capital One Bowl) Thomas was matched up against speedy sack artist Stanley McClover, coming up with a touchdown-resulting block. Joe would also see action on defense, but that proved fatal for the Badgers, as he suffered a torn right knee anterior cruciate ligament. In a game where almost nothing else went wrong for Wisconsin, the Badgers suffered one notable loss in their 24-10 triumph over Auburn The injury happened when Thomas was filling in at defensive tackle for a team that has experienced its share of losses on that side of the line this season. "The only negative was Joe Thomas' injury," said outgoing coach Barry Alvarez. "It just makes you sick when some-thing like that happens." The Badgers called on Thomas to fill in on defense early in the third quarter, just after Thomas' man, Auburn defensive end Stanley McClover, sacked QB John Stocco for a 5-yard loss on a third-and-7 play midway through the third quarter. Stocco fumbled at the UW 18-yard line, where Auburn recovered. Thomas went in on red-zone defense and immediately made a stop. He contributed to a defensive stand in which the Badgers held Auburn to a 19-yard field goal. Thomas went back in on defense on the next Auburn possession and immediately banged his knee hard on the turf with 7:53 left in the third quarter after a 6-yard gain by the Tigers. He was helped to the sideline, where he underwent treatment and did not return Earlier in the game, Thomas leveled McClover as Stocco rolled left to hit Brandon Williams with an 18-yard pass along the left sidelines. Joe then ran over nose guard T.J. Jackson and shoved McClover out of the way to spring Brian Calhoun for a 27-yard scamper over left tackle. Thomas then held McClover off from getting to Stocco until the QB found Williams with an 18-yard touchdown to cap a 5-play, 75-yard drive at the 7:55 mark of the first quarter, as Thomas made up for letting McClover kill a drive on the previous series when the defensive end pressured Stocco on a third-and-10 play At the start of the third quarter, McClover beat Thomas to sack Stocco for a 5-yard loss on a third-and-7 play, causing a fumble that Auburn's T.J. Jackson recovered to set up a Tigers' field goal Head to Head Competition-DE#75-Stanley McClover-Three solo tackles, a 5-yard sack, QB pressure and a forced fumble.
Thomas earned All-Big Ten honorable mention and was an Academic All-Big Ten and ESPN Academic All-District V selection after taking over left offensive tackle duties He helped the team average 160.9 yards per game rushing and 328.1 yards in total offense Despite being the youngest member of the offensive line he allowed only four of the 20 sacks given up by the front wall, grading 83.1% for blocking consistency He ranked second on the team with 74 knockdowns, with 48 coming on rushing plays Thomas was credited with thirteen touchdown-resulting blocks and made sixteen blocks down field He also recorded three solo tackles while starting twelve times.
|2004 Game Analysis|
Central Florida In his first career start on the offensive line, Thomas graded 94% for blocking consistency while producing a pair of touchdown-resulting blocks and seven knockdowns, including three down field, as QB John Stocco threw two touchdowns and ran for another, letting head coach Barry Alvarez notched his 100th career win the Badgers' 34-6 victory Thomas made his presence felt midway through the second quarter, taking down defensive end Genroy Watkins while leading the sweep on a first-and-goal run by tailback Anthony Davis that resulted in an 8-yard touchdown, capping a 9-play, 52-yard drive In the second quarter, Thomas upended linebacker James Cook to give Stocco time to fire a 16-yard scoring strike to receiver Jonathan Orr that ended a 50-yard, 6-play drive Head to Head Competition-DE#95-Paul Carrington-One solo tackle, one pass deflection.
Nevada-Las Vegas QB John Stocco threw one touchdown, as Thomas cleared a path for a 3-yard gain by fullback Jamil Walker on a second-and-goal run down to the UNLV 5, setting up the Badgers passer's 5-yard scoring lob to Darrin Charles to finish a 16-play, 82-yard drive in the first quarter Head to Head Competition-DE#98-Leon Moore-Three tackles (one solo), one pass deflection.
Arizona Thomas registered six knockdowns, including one that brought down defensive tackle Carlos Williams on Booker Stanley's first-and-goal run for a 7-yard touchdown, as Wisconsin overcame an 88-minute weather delay and a strong Arizona defense to pull out a 9-7 triumph at Arizona Stadium. During that scoring drive, Thomas also upended linebacker Sean Jones on QB John Stocco's 9-yard screen pass to fullback Matt Bernstein that set up Stanley's scoring run at the Arizona 7 Head to Head Competition-DE#55-Marcus Smith-Six tackles (5 solos), two pass deflections.
Penn State For the third time in four games, Wisconsin did not allow its opponent a touchdown, as it defeated Penn State 16-3 in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams at Camp Randall Stadium Thomas graded 89% for blocking consistency while coming up with six knockdowns, including one that stopped linebacker Derek Wake on QB John Stocco's third-and-1 bootleg over left tackle that produced a 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter Thomas also tackled safety Calvin Lowry after the defender gained 35 yards on an interception return of a Stocco pass at the start of the fourth quarter Head to Head Competition-DE#5-Jim Kanuch-No tackles.
Illinois Tailback Anthony Davis scored three touchdowns in leading Wisconsin to a 24-7 victory over Illinois. Davis notched his first score on a 16-yard carry early in the second quarter, capping a nine-play, 73 yard drive for Wisconsin, as Thomas cut blocked line-backer Matt Sinclair to clear away the final obstacle on the Badger's scamper Joe posted ten knockdowns with seven coming on running plays, as he delivered two touchdown-resulting blocks and four blocks down field to finish with an 88% grade A 70-yard, 8-play drive by UW that took up nearly five minutes in the third quarter resulted in another Davis touchdown, this time from seven yards out, as Thomas cleared a rush lane for a 26-yard run by Davis that got the Badgers to the two-yard line, but a false start penalty vs. UW pushed the ball back to the 7-yard line. On the next play, a key block by Joe on defensive end Scott Moss on a first-and-goal play resulted in Davis' scoring burst off left tackle In the first quarter, Thomas gave up the first tackle for a loss in his career, when Moss slipped around left end to take down Davis for a 1-yard loss on a second-and-10 run Head to Head Competition-DE#90-Scott Moss-Six tackles (3 solos), one stop for a 1-yard loss, one QB pressure.
Ohio State QB John Stocco threw two touchdown passes and Anthony Davis rushed for 168 yards on a career-high 39 carries as Wisconsin snapped Ohio State's 18-game home winning streak with a 24-13 win over the Buckeyes Thomas graded 83% and made five knockdowns, including two on key touchdown drives Trailing 10-0 early in the second quarter, UW got back to within 10-7 as Davis ripped off a 31-yard touchdown run with nine minutes remaining before halftime, following Thomas' lead around left end, as the UW tackle flattened defensive end Simon Fraser on the play The Badgers took a lead they would never relinquish with 3:30 to go in the quarter as Stocco connected with Darrin Charles on an 8-yard scoring strike to help put Wisconsin up 14-10. The touchdown was made possible when Thomas leveled linebacker Anthony Schlegel in the backfield Joe did get beat by defensive end Jay Richardson on a run by Davis in the first quarter that resulted in a 4-yard loss, but that was Thomas' only blemish for the day Head to Head Competition-DE#99-Jay Richardson-Three tackles (2 solos), one stop for minus 4 yards.
Purdue Badgers cornerback Scott Starks scooped up Kyle Orton's fumble and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown with 2:36 remaining as Wisconsin rallied from a 17-7 fourth-quarter deficit to post a 20-17 win over Purdue Thomas had six knockdowns, including one that resulted in a UW touchdown After trailing 7-0 at halftime, Purdue rallied to take a 17-7 lead on a six-yard touchdown run by Orton with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. However, UW quarterback John Stocco marched his team right back down the field. Stocco completed 6-of-7 passes for 73 yards on the drive, culminating with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Booker Stanley to bring the Badgers back within three with 5:29 remaining, as Joe leveled defensive end Anthony Spencer in the backfield to prevent the sack artist from getting to the Badgers passer, making up for Spencer deflecting a Stocco third-and-6 drive-killing incomplete pass midway through the second quarter Head to Head Competition-DE#49-Anthony Spencer-Two tackles (one solo), one pass deflection.
Northwestern Thomas emerged from a fierce battle with All-Big Ten defensive end Barry Cofield, knocking the defender down twelve times while producing a pair of touchdown-resulting blocks. Tailback Anthony Davis helped Wisconsin stay perfect this season by scoring two touchdowns in the Badgers' 24-12 victory. The Badgers improved their record to 8-0 for the first time since their Rose Bowl-winning 1998 season On an 11-play, 72-yard drive in the second quarter, QB John Stocco found a slanting Owen Daniels in the end zone for his seventh touchdown pass of the season, when Thomas simply flattened Cofield on the play Six minutes later, another long drive resulted in a Davis 7-yard score on a second-and-goal play, as Joe drove into Cofield and middle linebacker Tim McGarigle to open the rush lane used by the UW tailback Cofield's only positive play for the day came when he killed an early first quarter drive by deflecting a Stocco third-and-9 pass, forcing the Badgers to punt Head to Head Competition-DE#67-Barry Cofield-Four tackles (2 solos), one pass deflection.
Minnesota Wisconsin showed its offense could be strong as its defense, as Anthony Davis and John Stocco combined for five touchdowns in leading the Badgers past Minnesota 38-14 Thomas delivered five knockdowns, including one on Stocco's 1-yard touchdown run, as Joe crashed into defensive end Darrell Reid to spring his quarterback on that first-and-goal play that capped a 9-play, 80-yard drive That hit made up for Reid charging around left end to sack Stocco for a 4-yard loss late in the fourth quarter and for letting Reid and Mario Reese converge on Davis for a tackle behind the line of scrimmage in the third Head to Head Competition-DE#51-Darrell Reid-Seven tackles (4 solos), a 4-yard sack and two stops for minus 6 yards.
Michigan State Wisconsin suffered its first loss of the season, dropping a 49-14 decision to Michigan State in East Lansing Thomas did not register a touchdown-resulting block for only the second time in his career (first was earlier in the season vs. UNLV) Head to Head Competition-DE#92-Clifton Ryan-Three solo tackles (note-Ryan added a 4-yard sack of QB Tyler Donovan in the fourth quarter, but Thomas and the first unit were not on the field).
Iowa With a share of the Big Ten Conference title on the line, Wisconsin dropped its second-straight contest, falling to Iowa 30-7 at Kinnick Stadium For the second consecutive contest, Joe did not register a touchdown-resulting block, but he did tackle defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux after the All-Big Ten performer recovered a fumble by QB John Stocco and returned the ball 39 yards before Thomas hauled him down at the Wisconsin 25 midway through the fourth quarter Head to Head Competition-DE#98-Derreck Robinson-Six tackles (5 solos), one forced fumble, one QB pressure.
Georgia (Outback Bowl) The Bulldogs emerged from a fierce battle with Wisconsin with a 24-21 decision, as the Georgia defensive line made the game look like a war zone. The UGA defense registered seven sacks, as Thomas experienced a "baptism under fire" trying to contain All-American defensive end David Pollack, who got to QB John Stocco three times for losses totaling 12 yards, including one that leveled Stocco for a drive-killing 1-yard loss on a third-and-10 play in the third quarter Thomas did post seven knockdowns, including one that stopped Pollack on a 19-yard touchdown toss from Stocco to Darin Charles that capped a third quarter 8-play, 88-yard drive Joe also made a bone-jarring tackle after Georgia's Jarvis Jackson scooped up a fumble by Stocco that was caused after a 4-yard sack by Thomas Davis, as Thomas leveled Johnson for a 1-yard loss on a third-and-14 play in the fourth quarter Head to Head Competition-DE#47-David Pollack-Four tackles (3 solos), three sacks for minus 12 yards, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one pass deflection.
Thomas appeared in ten games as a true freshman, wearing jersey #82 He lined up as a tight end in short yardage situations, but was shifted to left defensive end, starting vs. Auburn in the Music City Bowl when injuries depleted the Badgers defensive line, forcing the coaching staff to move their talented rookie to the other side of the ball Thomas also appeared on the Wisconsin offensive line, becoming the first true freshman in the Barry Alvarez era to accomplish that feat.
|2003 Game Analysis|
Auburn (Music City Bowl) Thomas started at left defensive end, leading the team's down linemen with seven assisted tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage while matched up against All-American offensive tackle Marcus McNeill On Auburn's game-opening drive, Thomas teamed up with Robert Vrooks to take down tailback Carnell Williams on a 5-yard run off right end On the Tigers' next drive, Joe joined cornerback Scott Starks in stopping Williams on a 7-yard run Thomas then ran down QB Jason Campbell on a 9-yard bootleg, followed by a stop of tailback Ronnie Brown for a 1-yard loss on a second-and-1 run on the next play in the second quarter In the third quarter, Williams would pick up 9 yards on a run before Joe and safety Jim Leonhard tackled him at the Auburn 40. Later on that drive, Thomas teamed with Leonhard to stop Campbell for a 1-yard loss on a second-and-goal draw play. On third-and-goal, Joe helped linebacker Jonathan Welsh haul down Williams after a 4-yard run up the middle Head to Head Competition-OT#73-Marcus McNeill.
2006: Suffered a torn anterior ligament in his right knee vs. Auburn in the Capital One Bowl (1/02) while playing on the defensive line, banging his knee hard on the turf with 7:53 left in the third quarter after a 6-yard gain by Tigers tailback Ken Irons. He was helped to the sideline, where he underwent treatment and did not return. He underwent surgery on Jan. 19 and underwent a grueling rehabilitation. Thomas has already put in a tremendous amount of work to strengthen his knee and reshape his upper body. He was listed 295 pounds last season, but during rehab, he increased his weight to 313. Most of that 18-pound increase appears to be in his upper body, which is noticeably thicker than a year ago.
Campus: 5.09 in the 40-yard dash Bench presses 225 pounds 28 times 32 1/2-inch arm length 9 3/4-inch hands Right-handed 29/34 Wonderlic score.
Thomas was a standout performer on Wisconsin's track & field squad (2004-05) as a weight man Joe holds the school indoor record in the shot put with a 62'01" toss in 2005, topping the old mark of 61'07" by Jeff Braun in March, 1979 His career-best outdoor shot put throw of 62'05" rank fourth on the school's record books behind Anders Holmstrom (63'09" in May, 2000), Jeff Braun (63'02" in June, 1979) and Paul Belke (62'06" in June, 1992) His career-best outdoor discus toss of 178'0" rank sixth in school history, topped only by Pete Leach (186'0" in April, 1992), Anders Holmstrom (185'04" in May, 2000), Clint Englund (184'09") in May, 1990), Rob Salamo (181'03" in April, 2000) and Dave Niemuth (179'11" in May, 1983).
2005 Season Earned All-Big Ten Conference second-team honors, performing in the shot put and discus Also named to the Academic All-Big Ten track squad Participated in both the indoor and outdoor seasons Indoor Season-At the Panther Classic (2/05), Thomas won the shot put event (59' 5 ") He finished fifth in the shot put (59' 9 ") at the Iowa State Classic (2/12) and won the University of Northern Iowa-Dome Open (2/18) title (60' 0 ") while finishing fourteenth in the weight throw (49'11") He placed second in the shot put (62' 0 ") at the Big Ten Championships (2/26) Thomas finished 14th in the shot put (56' 11 ") at the NCAA Championships (3/12) Outdoor Season-Qualified for the NCAA Regionals in the shot put, setting the school record in that event with a 62' 5 " toss on May 15 to finish second at the Big Ten Championships Thomas finished fourth at the Baldy Castillo Tournament (3/19) in the shot put (57'3") and thirteenth in the discus (152'1") At the Jim Click Shoot-out (3/26), Thomas placed fourth in the shot put (60'3") and fifth in the discus (167'2"). He also finished fifteenth with a hammer toss of 134'5" He placed second in the shot put (58' 10 ") and won the discus title (167'9") at the Gatorade Classic (4/09) Thomas won the University of Northern Iowa Twilight (4/24) shot put event (56' 4 ") and the discus title (159'9") Thomas placed third in the shot put (62'3") at the NCAA Mideast Regional (5/27) and ninth in the discus (172'4") At the NCAA Championships (6/08), Thomas placed fifteenth in the shot put (58" 7 ").
2004 Season Thomas competed in the shot put and discus as a freshman Indoor Season-At the Big Ten Championships (2/28), Joe ranked eighth in the shot put
(57' 2 ") He won the shot put title at the Panther Classic (2/07) with a 56' 4 " toss
Thomas also won the University of Northern Iowa-Dome Open (2/21) in the shot put (56'2") He finished eighth in the shot put (55' 11 ") at the Iowa State Classic (2/14)
At the Wisconsin Elite Invitational (1/24), Joe placed eighth in the shot put (55' 7 ")
Outdoor Season Thomas added discus duties during the outdoor season He placed third at the Spring Break Open (3/17) in the shot put (56' 5 ") and third in the discus (150'1") Thomas finished third in the shot put (57' 5 ") and seventh in the discus (158'0") at the Northridge Invitational (3/20) At the Los Angeles Twilight (4/15) meet, Joe was third in the shot put (55' 10 ") and seventh in the discus (147'0") The next day (4/16), he finished tenth in the discus (160'7") at the Mount San Antonio College Relays
At the Long Beach Invitational (4/17), Thomas placed fifth in the shot put (56' 3 ") and eighth in the discus (163'1") Won the shot put title (58' 5 ") and ranked second in the discus (163'0") at the Loras open (4/24) Back home, he placed second in the shot put (59'9") and fourth in the discus (158'2") at the Wisconsin Twilight meet At the Big Ten Championships (5/15-16), he finished eighth in the shot put (61' 7 ") and fifth in the discus (178'0") Thomas closed out the season by placing tenth in the shot put (57'3") and 13th in the discus (170'4") at the NCAA Mideast Regional (5/28-29).
Attended Brookfield (Wisc.) Central High School, playing football for head coach Rick Synold Was a Prep Star (first-team) and USA Today (second-team) All-American offensive lineman Rated the fourth-best offensive tackle in the nation according to Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report and ranked among top twenty offensive tackles nationally, top 25 players in the Midwest and was rated the third-best player in Wisconsin according to Rivals.com Added Detroit Free Press All-Midwest, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first-team All-State honors as a defensive lineman and second-team All-State accolades as an offensive tackle as a senior First-team All-State defensive pick by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and Associated Press Chosen 2002 WFCA Defensive Player of the Year with fellow Badger Justin Ostrowski, as Thomas recorded 85 tackles and 12 quarterback sacks as a senior, adding 70 tackles and eight sacks his junior campaign .Three-time All-Conference selection in football, lettering four times in that sport Also lettered four times in both track and basketball. He captained the football and basketball teams his senior year and was a four-time Honor Roll student, in addition to garnering U.S. Army Academic All-American honors In track, Thomas finished fifth in the national finals in the shot put as a junior and was second in the shot put and 10th in the discus at the 2003 Adidas Outdoor Championships Earned All-Conference, All-Area and All-State recognition in both the shot put and discus Thomas won the 2003 Wisconsin state title in the shot put and discus and was the conference, regional and sectional champion in the shot put and discus during his final season Finished fifth in the shot put at the 2002 Adidas Outdoor Championships Placed third in the shot put and fourth in the discus at the state meet as a junior Was the sectional and conference champion in the shot and discus that year.
Business major, with an emphasis in Real Estate and Urban Land Economics Earned Academic All-Big Ten Conference and ESPN Academic All-District V honors (2004-05)
Son of Sally and Eric Thomas Born 12/4/84 Resides in Brookfield, Wisconsin.