Lo, it was a miracle.
The Aggies of Texas A&M trailed the Gamecocks of South Carolina by ten points at the approach of the fourth quarter of the game on Saturday evening. A late field goal aided the team in overcoming the deficit, leading to a deficit of only seven as the final quarter began. Still, the challenges were vast. The team had been frustrated for much of the game. But then the skies parted, and onto the screen overlooking the field, there emerged an avatar for the hopes and dreams of the people of College Station. And they knew him as 12th Man Jesus. He appeared, and it was good.
It was really good, actually. Running back Keith Ford emerged in the 4th, rallying the team for two scores on the ground, tying the game with twelve minutes left and then taking the lead five minutes later. A&M held on and won, the Aggies went on to a 3-1 record, and the legend of 12th Man Jesus was born.
12th Man Jesus is an engineering senior at A&M named Sam Tomaso. He earned the nickname because he’s got long hair and a beard, and he’s prone to shaving the number “12” into his chest hair. And after he appeared on the Jumbotron screen in A&M’s comeback against South Carolina, he became a sensation. Aggie fan forums celebrate the guy. A petition launched by a friend of Tomaso’s urging the university to bring the bearded fan to the front of the tunnel before A&M’s game against Alabama went viral; at press time, it has more than 7,000 signatures.
Chris Patch, the friend who launched the petition, told The Battalion that he wasn’t surprised that people responded so powerfully to the sight of Tomaso on the screen.
“On the North side of Kyle this last game, I wasn’t sitting in the student section, and when they showed him on the screen, you could tell that people were just louder,” said Patch. “It was just so cool and so I just thought, if I make this and share it with the right people I’m sure it’ll catch on.”
The fact that Tomaso’s appearance on the screen coincided with the team’s comeback helps, but last Saturday’s game wasn’t the first time that the engineering senior caught attention at A&M. Here’s a video of him at last year’s overtime victory against Tennessee, once more bare-chested, once more cheering his Nazarene-looking heart out for the redass glory of his beloved school.
A&M will need the full support of Tomaso and the rest of the Aggie faithful on Saturday against Alabama. The team is a 26.5 point underdog against the feared Crimson Tide, and a victory at Kyle Field over the top-ranked team in the country would be miraculous indeed. If it happens—and if there’s only footprints from one pair of cleats leading from the tunnel to the field—then we’ll know that 12th Man Jesus was carrying the team.