Crimson Tide top five: Derrick Thomas set sack standards that may never be topped

AP photo by David Breslauer / Alabama linebacker Derrick Thomas sacks Texas A&M's Lance Pavlas for a 4-yard loss during the first half of the Dec. 1, 1988, game that was dubbed the "Hurricane Bowl." Thomas set Crimson Tide single-game records with seven tackles for loss and five sacks in the game.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the last story in a series counting down the top five players in University of Alabama football history. Companion series are planned for Georgia (May 11-15) and Tennessee (May 18-22).

Folks, it's really not that close.

Amid Alabama's multitude of outstanding players through the years who have helped the Crimson Tide compile 27 Southeastern Conference football championships and 17 recognized national titles, linebacker Derrick Thomas stands out as the greatest of them all. While a handful of elite talents have established program records in Tuscaloosa, Thomas set standards that were never meant to be broken.

For starters, the 52 career sacks racked up by Thomas from 1985-88 nearly doubles the next-highest Tide total of 28.5 by Jonathan Allen from 2013-16. Remember, when Thomas was wreaking havoc, most of Alabama's regular seasons consisted of 11 contests, and bowl-game totals were not allowed in NCAA statistical categories until 2002.