November 19, 2011

Seniors look to leave Doak with a victory

When Florida State faces Virginia on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. it will be the final time for a senior class of 16 players to play in front of a home crowd.

12 scholarship players and four walk-ons will run out of the tunnel onto Bobby Bowden field one last time.

"I'm going to just try to live in that moment and try to take it all in for the last time and really appreciate it," redshirt senior receiver Bert Reed said of his final home game.

"I've thought about it a couple of times," senior linebacker Nigel Bradham said. "I definitely know it's my last time walking out. It's probably going to be emotional, it probably hasn't sunk in yet though."

This senor class has been through a lot during its time on campus. Most arrived in either the summer of 2007 or 2008 after an overhaul of changes were made to coaching staff on the offensive side of the ball.

Then during the 2009 season it was announced that legendary head coach Bobby Bowden would be retiring at the end of the season, and then offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher would be taking the helm.

This senior class is the first full recruiting class that Fisher and the new offensive staff had a full year to put together. But that's now what makes them special to Fisher, but rather what they have persevered through during their time on campus.

"They are (special) because of what they've endured and the guys that have survived and are still here," Fisher said after Tuesday's practice. "What they went through and the situations and hopefully helping turn this program around and getting back to where we want to go to. Not where we're at, but in the right direction and showing that kind of leadership and dedication and fighting through those hard times. It's a little group but it's a special group."

Reed said he couldn't be more proud to be a part of a class that has endured so much. While they never won a championship, Reed hopes that when Seminole fans look back on the group they'll see how much of an impact this class truly had on the program.

"For us to come in and change the perception a little bit, to come in rated as high as we were at the beginning of the season makes me feel really proud of these seniors," Reed said. "We've been through a lot. One day we'll get some credit, it's not as much as we wanted, to get to the national championship, but I think one of these days we'll get some credit for pushing this program forward."

Coaching changes weren't the only trial and tribulations that Reed had to go through in his career at FSU. During his redshirt freshman season, Reed was suspended twice and many began to wonder if he would ever make it to a senior day.

"I was wondering that myself," he said. "I knew I wasn't that type of person doing those things, I just wasn't doing the right thing. I wasn't doing anything majorly wrong in my mind, but I wasn't doing the right things."

Reed said after a meeting with Bowden he began to put the pressure on himself to do the right things to make sure he didn't waste the opportunity he had at FSU.

"Now it's me putting the pressure on myself to do things right, rather than when Coach Bowden brought me into his office and told me 'Your back is against the wall,'" Reed said. "It really got real to me at that moment. My worst fear is failure so that was all I needed right there."

Much like the program itself during Reed's career, after some early struggles his career looks to be ending on a high note. After some early season losses FSU has now rattled off five straight wins and will be looking to finish the season with eight straight wins.

The program is no doubt in better shape than when this senior class arrived in Tallahassee, and for the members of this class that's almost as good as a championship.

"I think that once you leave you want to leave the program off with a better opportunity the next year," senior tackle Zebrie Sanders said. "I think that's what we're doing, getting them in a good situation. The season isn't over this year, we still have three more games and we want to win out on all of them ... I think any player that's the main goal. Apart from getting his education and doing the best he can, its to leave the program off better than it was."

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