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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Senior Day: a last hurrah at home for the graduating ‘Cats

This game against No. 11 Oregon marks the last time a slew of Wildcat players will take the field in Arizona Stadium. This group of seniors has been through many ups and downs in their careers. Here’s a sample of what some of the coaches and players have to say about Senior Day.

Head coach Mike Stoops:

A lot of these guys could have gone to other places, and this shows an extreme amount of confidence and belief that we could do something great. That’s not always easy to do, and they believed in what our message was and I would say it was accurate. They’ve done a lot and I think they learned a great deal from this experience. It’s easy to be on top all the time but to get knocked down and keep getting back up, I think shows a certain amount of toughness and courage and perseverance that will definitely help you in life and being successful.

Safety Cam Nelson on the gratification of having “”College GameDay”” on campus for his last home game:

It’s a lot of fun. Coming in, we knew that coach Stoops was going to turn the program around. We came in, everyone in our class pretty much were on the same visits together, and we talked about it and we wanted to be that class to come help turn it around. We’ve contributed a lot with that happening. It will be good just to get one final win at home in our last game.

Cornerback Devin Ross on what he’ll miss most:

I’ll just miss my coaches. I love my coaches — coach Mark, coach Mike, all the coaches — and just being here and playing for the Wildcats.

Defensive tackle Donald Horton on the magnitude of his last home game:

On my recruiting trip I saw (Arizona) play Wisconsin and it was raining like crazy and that’s what sold me because I thought, “”Man, these guys could be really good.”” But those first couple years were bad, but for it to play out like this is real cool.

Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell on his favorite achievement:

The accomplishment for me so far is just watching the team grow, watching coach Stoops grow as a coach and just seeing the progression. Nothing’s really changed, it’s just the players who have been brought in have really good character. I’m just proud of the progression and everything I’ve been a part of.

Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops on his thoughts about this group:

I just have a lot of love and a lot of good feelings about these seniors. These guys are great guys, they’ve been through some ups and some downs and I just really appreciate their commitment to the program.

Linebacker Xavier Kelley on what’s changed in the past four years:

The attitude is a big change. It took a big change in the right direction. There were times we had guys who didn’t want to come out to practice and now there’s guys who can’t wait to get out to practice, so that’s been helping us out in getting this whole program turned around.

Linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka on if he thought the program would get to this point during his time in Tucson:

It was really about believing in the coach’s words when I came here. You really don’t know whether to believe it at first, but when you get here you start believing right away when you start hearing what the coaches are trying to tell us; and now we’re a few games a away from being the conference champs.

Outside receivers coach Dave Nichol on his favorite memories:

I tell everybody that my favorite Wildcat is Corey Hall and he’s kind of been the rock on the defense. He knows our defense almost as good as some of our coaches … (The seniors) signed their papers to come here after a 3-8 season, you know? Now we’re doing some great things. We went from 3-8 when they signed, to “”GameDay”” being here and it’s because of guys like him, just being Steady Eddie and doing what he’s supposed to.

Wide receiver Terrell Turner on if he’ll cry:

I’m going to try not to, but I said that in high school and as soon as the clock hit double-zero I just started balling. You never know, I’ve got to try to put the tough-guy face on, but then I might see my mom come down crying so I don’t know what will happen.

H-back Chris Gronkowski on his emotions about Senior Day:

It’s crazy. Everyone’s going to be there, live on TV with the whole nation watching. It’s a big game, and we’ve got to win if we want a chance to go to a nice bowl game. I’m pumped, I’m ready to go.

Offensive lineman Mike Diaz on if he took a risk coming to the UA:

I didn’t think of the program being as bad as people said. They had their ups and downs, but I came in respecting the coaching staff and respecting what they did and I just wanted to be a part of that family. We’ve improved a lot and I’m glad I made that choice.

— Compiled by Brian Kimball, Tim Kosch and Bobby Stover

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