Sam Tomaso, senior in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, became a fan favorite by taking on the persona of 12th Man Jesus on Texas A&M gamedays.
By Jennifer Reiley, Texas A&M University College of Engineering
There are many ways to show the Aggie spirit. Sam Tomaso, senior in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, shaves the number 12 onto his chest for home football games, gaining him the nickname 12th Man Jesus.
“I’m just there to have fun. I think it’s great to get the 12th Man more excited than they already are and get them involved in the game,” Tomaso said.
Tomaso had the idea the week of the 2016 game against Tennessee. With help from his roommates, he had the number shaved onto his chest on game day. He spent time before the game visiting tailgates and telling friends to keep an eye out for him on the JumboTron.
“I ended up getting on screen for probably 45 seconds. It was a long time, the longest I had ever seen anybody on the screen,” Tomaso said.
Tomaso spent about an hour after the game, which the Aggies won in double overtime, taking photos with fans, and continued the tradition for home games the rest of the season. However, he said the fame didn’t kick in fully until this season, when members of the university’s water ski team — of which Tomaso is a member — started a petition to have Tomaso lead the football team out during the 2017 Alabama game. The petition was shared across social media, and Tomaso said within a few hours it had more than 1,000 signatures. By game day three days later, it had 10,000 signatures. While the university did not reach out to Tomaso, he said there were plenty of people who recognized him at the game and a number who wanted photos.
The story was shared in local, state and national news outlets. Tomaso said he finds it funny how quickly the petition story spread and how he is now often recognized on and off campus. However, he has not let the fame go to his head and his goal remains to bring spirit to Kyle Field on game day. He recalled the 2017 game against South Carolina, when a targeting call was made against a Texas A&M player.
“Everyone was pretty upset. There was some time where they were filming people in the crowd, so my friends lifted me up and they caught me on camera. Immediately the crowd got even louder. There was a huge jump in the noise right then,” Tomaso said.
When he’s not in the stadium Tomaso studies civil engineering with a structural emphasis, and participates in the university honors program. He was interested early in his education to go into humanitarian work. Tomaso expects to graduate in May 2018 and plans to attend the Cistercian Abbey Our Lady of Dallas to study to become a Catholic priest.
Outside of class, Tomaso participates on the university’s water ski team and plays music for Mass and events at St. Mary’s Catholic Center.
Tomaso is a third-generation Aggie and the first in his family to study engineering. He said his family, like himself, finds the 12th Man Jesus fame funny and a positive way to show the Aggie spirit. He said even members of his family who are not Aggies have shown their support, including his uncle, who Tomaso called a “diehard Longhorn.”
“None of his co-workers believed when he said that I was his nephew. He had to take a picture with me to prove it to them,” Tomaso said. “I think that was one of my proudest moments that I got a diehard Longhorn to take a picture with me while I was giving a big old gig ‘em with a 12 shaved into my chest.”
He offered some advice to current and incoming students to not stress about what organizations they may feel they have to join.
“Just do what you are passionate about,” Tomaso said. “If you enjoy it, who knows, maybe you’ll be famous someday.”
This story by Jennifer Reiley originally appeared on the College of Engineering website.