If Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” wasn’t written about Broderick Thomas, it should have been.
Thomas was more than just a good “linebacker.” He captured the imagination of Husker fans in a way that few defensive players can, and he brought an infectious swagger that helped deliver Nebraska its only outright Big 8 title post-Turner Gill and pre-Tommie Frazier.
Thomas played as a true freshman and tallied a pair of sacks in 1985. As a sophomore he already began to stand out as he finished third on the team in tackles, including 11 for losses. He would be named all-conference for his performance. He repeated the honor as a junior and received some All-American recognition as well.
But it was his senior season that remains the defining one. Not only did he amass 98 tackles in 12 games at what was essentially a defensive end spot, he also tallied 10 sacks, forced three fumbles, and was credited with causing a pair of interceptions.
More importantly, the All-American and Big 8 Defensive Player-of-the-Year led a dominant unit that truly delivered the Big 8 title to the Huskers. In consecutive weeks in November, he helped the Huskers pitch a 7-0 shutout over No. 19 Colorado and a 7-3 lockdown of No. 9 Oklahoma in Norman in Barry Switzer’s final Big 8 game. Man, that was sweet.
The Huskers had to be perfect defensively to win those games and they were in large part due to the brilliance of Thomas. He stuffed a reverse to keep CU out of field goal range and he tallied two sacks against OU.
The term “blackshirt” will always be synonymous with Thomas to those who saw him play. Exit light, enter Broderick.