OXFORD, Miss. – Last Saturday, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette came to Oxford, and it was the perfect day in the South. The Rebels won convincingly, the weather was beautiful, and the Ole Miss athletic department outdid itself with the salute to our nation’s veterans. The day could not have been more perfect—with one exception.
During this trouncing of the Ragin’ Cajuns, the seats at Vaught-Hemingway were not full. And by the time the second half rolled around, many fans who were there had left.
Senior Day: Come early and stay late!
Fast forward to this Saturday, November 18, 2017.
It is Senior Day at Ole Miss as Western Division foe Texas A&M comes to Oxford. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. (CT), and the weather is a little on the iffy side.
Today is the day we celebrate the Ole Miss football players who have given their heart and soul to the Rebels. Four to five years ago, these starry-eyed kids pledged their devotion to the Red and Blue. They are now veterans, so to speak, themselves. They’ve been a part of some amazing achievements, such as:
- Back-to-back New Year’s Six Bowls (2014 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and 2016 Sugar Bowl)
- Victory over Oklahoma State in the 2016 Sugar Bowl gave Rebels 10 wins for the first time since 2003
- Achieved the highest national ranking (No. 3) since 1964
- First win over No. 1 team in program history (Alabama, 2014)
- Back-to-back wins over Alabama for the first time in program history (2014, 2015)
- Nationally ranked 33 times, including eight weeks ranked in top 10
- Spent 8 separate weeks ranked in the Top 10
- Wins at Alabama and Auburn in the same season for the first time in school history (2015)
- No. 1 scoring defense in the country (2014)
These seniors have, unfortunately, also seen the dark side of college athletics–from an NCAA investigation that has lasted throughout their entire tenure as student-athletes at Ole Miss, to the self-imposed bowl ban that would keep them from going to a bowl game in their final season, to the resignation of their head coach just before their senior year.
They have faced disappointment; they have faced adversity.
How did they respond? They responded like CHAMPIONS.
Today is the last day these kids will ever run out of the tunnel at Vaught-Hemingway.
Today is the last day they will wear the home unis.
Today is the final chapter of their home football careers.
As I reported early in the season, something is different about this team. They fight. They don’t quit. These guys are warriors.
They may defeat the Aggies today, or they may lose. But one thing is certain: from the head coach, to the assistant coaches, to the players, to the equipment managers, this bunch will fight tooth and nail to the bitter end. They will “never quit.”
Get there early, get settled in your seats, and celebrate with this group of players. They have given you all they had over the last 4-5 years, and they did so in spite of the challenges they have faced.
Tonight, give them all you have for one last time—just as you’ve done since their arrival. You’ve watched this group of starry-eyed kids mature into seasoned veterans. As they leave the field for the last time as a player this evening, they will be young men who are better prepared for life because of their experiences at Ole Miss.
Ole Miss Football 2017 Senior Class:
LB Alex Ashlock
WR Trey Bledsoe
OL Daronte Bouldin
RB Eugene Brazley
LB DeMarquis Gates
P Will Gleeson
DB C.J. Hampton
DE Marquis Haynes
WR Cale Luke
LB Elliott Markuson
DB A.J. Moore
DT Herbert Moore
WR Markell Pack
LB Tayler Polk
TE Ty Quick
LB Jack Raborn
LB John-Patrick Sherling
OL Rod Taylor
RB Jordan Wilkins
K Gary Wunderlich
Gig the Aggies!
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)