Aurealius Thomas, an All-American guard on Ohio State's 1957 national championship team and a College Football Hall of Fame inductee, has died at the age of 86.
Thomas passed away on Feb. 5, per a news release from Ohio State.
Despite weighing only 202 pounds, which was undersized for a guard even in his era, Thomas was a star on both sides of the line for the Buckeyes and helped lead them to a 9-1 season in 1957 – in which they split the national title with Auburn – while averaging a whopping 52 minutes of playing time per game, according to his College Football Hall of Fame biography.
“He lacked size but had tremendous technique as a blocker and mobility as a tackler,” per Thomas' Hall of Fame bio. “He was always able to outmaneuver opponents who were bigger.”
Thomas was selected in the 22nd round of the NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but did not play in the league, instead becoming an assistant coach at Ohio State for the 1958 season. After that, Thomas became a teacher in the Columbus Public Schools system, and was a coach for four years at Columbus East High School and two years at Columbus Central.
Later, Thomas went on to work for New York Life Insurance and start his own insurance brokerage in Columbus.
Thomas was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992.