GROVETON - Former Texas A&M running back Rodney Thomas passed away Saturday night. He was 41 years old.
Groveton Funeral Home owner Terry Cartwright says Thomas died Saturday of an unknown cause and that an autopsy is underway. According to Cartwright Thomas had been living in Spring, near Houston, with his wife and 4-year-old child and that he died during one of many visits to Groveton, where he grew up and where his mother lives.The Bryan-College Station Eagle reported Trinity County Justice of the Peace Rod Blair confirmed Thomas died at about 7:00 p.m. Saturday.
No word yet on the cause of death.
“I was shocked and saddened by the news of the passing of Rodney Thomas,” said former Texas A&M Head Football Coach R.C. Slocum who coached Thomas during his Aggie career. “He was a great football player, but more importantly, he was one of the finest young men that I have ever met.”
Slocum went on to say in a written statement sent to KBTX News 3, “(Rodney) was so kind, considerate and unselfish. He impacted all that met him in a positive way. Our prayers go out to his family and friends. Aggieland lost one of its brightest stars today.”
Former Aggie cornerback Ray Mickens, who played with Thomas at Texas A&M, tweeted his reaction just before 1:00 a.m. Sunday.
#GigEm Nation just lost a great one. RIP Rodney Thomas. 'Rock T'. Class act. Devout Christian. Love you partner.— Ray Mickens (@raymickens24) June 15, 2014
Thomas was a four-year football letterman (1991-92-93-94), helping Texas A&M win three straight Southwest Conference championships. The Aggies were 42-5-1 overall and 28-0-1 in SWC play during his career.
A two-time All-SWC running back, Thomas led all Aggie runners in 1994 with 868 yards and rushed for a career high 996 yards as a junior. He ended his career as only the fourth running back in school history to eclipse 3,000 yards (3,014 yards, 604 carries (5.0 avg), 41 touchdowns). He caught 38 passes for 380 yards and four receiving touchdowns to tie Darren Lewis with 45 all-time touchdowns, which was a school-record at the time. He and his teammates never lost a game at Kyle Field.
After his senior season, Thomas was named the Aggie Heart Award winner by his teammates. He was also named the SWC American Airlines Spirit Award winner.
Rodney was selected by the Houston Oilers in the third round of the 1995 NFL draft. He played from 1995-2000 with Oilers/Tennessee Titans. He played in Super Bowl XXIV which the Titans lost to the St. Louis Rams. His NFL career ended in 2001 after one season with the Atlanta Falcons.