By Justin Renck:
As we approach Senior Day 2012 for the football season, I tried to think of what kind of post to make on here to honor the seniors. After thinking of a few different ideas, I figured to just make it simple by saying: Thank you! Think about it…the seniors that have been here for their whole 4-5 year career committed to UofL when it really wasn’t a great place to commit to. They have stuck it out, and made this an attractive football program once again, and for that, I say thank you.
*One of the most well-spoken people and hard workers I have ever seen is RS SR Mario Benavides. He came to UofL from Los Fresnos, Texas, and has been the anchor for the Cards. He has followed one of the best centers in UofL’s history, Eric Wood. So how do you follow someone like that? You study and learn from them, and have a good relationship from them.
At media day I asked how is relationship is with Eric. Mario told me “Eric has always been a big time mentor for me. When he was a senior, I was lucky enough to come in early in January (graduated high school early), so I got to really just watch him, which was a big benefit for me…I’ve kept in touch with him to this day. I’ve been to his wedding. Before camp started, we were at the lake together. He’s one of those guys that although we’re 5 years apart, it doesn’t really feel that way. I think he kinda took it as his responsibility to make sure that the next center was groomed correctly, and obviously for me, regardless of who the next center is, I’m always going to try to teach those younger guys because I know how it feels to be in that situation.”
I also tip my cap to Mario for battling through so many injuries to get where he is today. Most people would give up after getting hurt as much as he has, but not with his fight and desire. Just take a listen to these injuries that he has had to deal with.
So to Mario, I just say thank you. I appreciate all of the hard work you have put in, and the next center definitely has some big shoes to fill. But if he learned from you the way that you did from Eric Wood, we are in great hands!
*You have to give it up for Will Stein. Our version of “Rudy” has been nothing but a class act in his time here. He dominated the high school ranks at Trinity High School, and came here as a walk-on. His first 2 years were spent backing up Justin Burke and Adam Froman. But in 2010, with a bowl berth on the line in Charlie Strong’s 1st season, Stein came up huge. Burke got hurt and we needed little Will Stein to lead us to a bowl game! He went 9-14 for 72 yards and threw his 1st career TD pass to Cameron Graham. We won the game and went on to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl!
He entered last season as our starter, but knew there was a very talented Teddy Bridgewater behind him. After getting injured against UK, Teddy came in, and the rest is history for Teddy being the QB. Stein never made a big deal about it. He continued to work hard and push Teddy in practice and make him better. You have to love that about the kid. Other players would have made a big deal about it, especially being a local kid. You never heard Stein say anything publicly about being the back-up. I have nothing but respect for Will Stein, and I hope he has instilled his fight and character in some of the younger guys on the team.
*The other 2 players from Trinity are Scott Radcliff and Alex Kupper. I remember the first game of the season last year when our first Touchdown was Alex Kupper snapping it to Will Stein, who threw the TD pass to Radcliff. It was Trinity all over the place, pretty cool for them. Radcliff has been Mr. Reliable to me, catching nearly everything that is thrown his way, and probably not being appreciated as much as he should be. He has always reminded me of a little Wes Welker. Kupper has also been great for us, playing different positions on the offensive line, showing his versatility. Those 2 have been great for us!
*Adrian Bushell basically fell into our laps last season. The former Florida Gator transferred to UofL right before the season started, and a couple of games in, he was already making an impact. He was very important to us because we needed some experience in the secondary, and he brought that right away and has been great since he arrived. His opening kickoff return for a TD at UConn last season set the tone for that game too. He is someone who will be hard to replace for sure. I will miss hearing Sean Moth say “Adrain BUUUUUUUUUUUUUSHELLLLL”
*His name sometimes gets forgotten because our depth at Wide Receiver is so deep, but Andrell Smith has been solid for us this season. He has pretty much caught anything thrown his way, and it always seems like it is either on 3rd down, or just a big play. While our wide receivers should be fine next season, I appreciate him working hard and making some big plays for us this season. He has had a solid career that hasn’t gone unnoticed!
*Nate Nord almost gave up football before this season because of all of the injuries he has dealt with. I am glad he stuck around because he has brought stability to the Tight End position. He definitely deserved to have a good senior season, and he has. We had a couple of good young tight ends on the team this season too, so it could end up being huge for them down the road that they had Nate Nord to learn from!
*The other seniors that will be honored on Saturday are DeMarcus Topp, Daniel Brown, Bo Eggers, Chris Zelli, and Nick Heuser.
So to all of our seniors, I just say thank you once again. You have been apart of building this foundation that has taken us back to new levels. You have helped make UofL football fun once again. I was a student at UofL during the Petrino years, and it was a blast! It is great to be able to have fun again at games, or while watching road games. I think I speak for our fan base when I say that your hard work has not gone unnoticed and it will not be forgotten. You will always be members of CardNation! L1C4!