Nearly 30 years later, one of his four children is possibly on a similar path eventually in Tuscaloosa.
T.J. Rayam just wrapped up his sophomore season at Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson High School, where he starts at defensive tackle for the Warriors.
"It was pretty good," he said of the spring. "Practice was great. I could have done better in the game though."
While chasing four-star class of 2014 athlete Ronnie Clark around all evening wasn't much fun, he held his own against the powerful Calera (Ala.) front, which includes elite underclassmen Tyler Pritchett.
It capped a spring in which Rayam feels he made strides in multiple areas.
"I improved in understanding and remembering plays and different blocking schemes," he said. "I mainly focused on mental things."
Rayam reports that Thomas doesn't get involved too much just yet, though he takes note of certain games and trends involving T.J.
"He thinks I did well in the game but I can always do better," said the Alabama legacy. "He says I have a lot of potential and I could go really far."
Given the chance, son would like to follow father to Tuscaloosa.
"My dad played at Alabama," he explained. "I'm a fan, went to most of their home games last year, too."
Rayam hasn't heard from the coaching staff just yet, but he knows there is a long way to go between now and national signing day 2015.
"It would mean a lot because I would really like to play there," said Rayan of the Tide and potential interest. "I was raised watching Alabama football, going to games and sometimes my dad would take me to practice.
"From a young age I wanted to follow in my dad's footsteps and play for Alabama."
BamaMag.com and FOX Sports NEXT will keep up with Rayam, who is already considered to be an elite high school wrestling prospect, throughout the process to see if he can eventually achieve his dream at the next level.