This year's Maryland football senior class is comprised of 22 men. Many of them got to College Park ahead of the 2011 season, so they've been with head coach Randy Edsall since the dawn of his own tenure. Some – like quarterback C.J. Brown – got to Maryland even before that. All will play their final home game on Saturday afternoon, when Rutgers visits Maryland for a 3:30 kick at Byrd Stadium.
This week, Edsall and Maryland coordinators Mike Locksley and Brian Stewart spoke at length about the seniors who will soon leave them behind. Here's some of what each man said:
On the significance of this Senior Day:
"The seniors mean a lot to me. They came in and persevered and understood what we were doing. They were able to reap the benefits that they were able to get. Life isn't always going to be the way you want it to be, but like I said, these kids are great kids who have worked hard. It'll pay off for them. When things don't go the way you wanted, you don't just turn around and quit. By them sticking to it, you can see the type of young men they have developed into and you can see the kind of leadership they have in terms of what we've been able to do in the four years of the program that they've been here. I'm extremely happy for them and proud of them. I feel it's a very good group."
On this senior class's meaning to the Maryland program:
"You take a look at what they went through and what they've done and you take a look at this year, and they were the group that led us into the Big Ten. Maryland football has gone to some places it's never been before, and beaten some teams we've never beaten before. I think that's special. These are the guys that have really laid the groundwork and built the foundation for what the program is all about and what the program stands for. I am always going to be indebted to them."
On Brown, his sixth-year quarterback:
"You just take a look at what he's been through with the injuries since he's been here. Some of the ups and downs he's had, but I think the one thing is, he's been an outstanding leader and has been a guy who's gotten better. To see him come back and play the way he's capable of playing last week, it just tells you who he is and what he's got inside him. I just hope him along with all the other seniors, go out and play a really good game on Saturday. There is a guy who can write a book about overcoming adversity, in terms of the injuries and the ups and downs. The thing is, he is a young man that you'd want on your team and you'd want in your organization because he epitomizes what a team player is and epitomizes hard work and character. All of those things. All of the qualities you want in a teammate. He embraces every one of them."
On senior lineman Keith Bowers:
"You saw him on high school film and you saw a guy who had a great motor and played hard. He did the things you asked him to do and he's carried that over here at Maryland. He's a good leader and a guy that is vocal and not afraid to step up and say things. Between how hard he plays and how hard he works, his leadership, he's been a tremendous asset to our program. You are going to get every ounce out of Keith Bowers. He's very prideful in terms of how he plays and he's well respected by his teammates."
Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley:
On Brown, Conaboy and Long – the latter of whom he brought to Maryland as a junior college recruit before last season.
"The longer you are in this game, the more you appreciate senior days. I talked to the offense on Monday. That time goes fast, and for me obviously, I came in the middle of Sal and C.J.'s careers here at Maryland and both of those guys have been great for us in terms of providing leadership and consistency. C.J. I feel for the kid because the guy had three different coordinators, three different quarterback coaches, and in about a four-year period of time and he passed with flying colors. Sal continues to be the leader for us up front, and you are going to miss that leadership that they both provide. Deon, obviously, that goes back when I was recruiting him in high school out of Dunbar, he wound up coming to New Mexico and when I came here to Maryland, I was fortunate enough to recruit him to Maryland and finish his career. This year so far has not been the way he wants it to be. He's continued to provide some leadership for us and still makes some plays for us and hopefully he'll be able to make some plays for us down the stretch."
Defensive coordinator Brian Stewart:
On celebrating this Senior Day:
"Last week, we talked before the Michigan game and I kind of got choked up talking to those guys that have been here. We've been road warriors, we really have. We wanted to continue that before the game. I talked about doing it for the seniors, if you can't play or do that extra for yourself, then do it for the seniors. The defensive seniors talked, you got [Darius] Kilgo and J.J. (Jeremiah Johnson) and they just kind of said what it was like playing with those guys and what it meant and it all coming to an end. I'm getting choked up now just thinking about those guys leaving."
On how he'd characterize this group of defensive seniors:
"I think they have a respect for the game and each other as well as mental toughness, because all of them went through a lot. They went through playing in a defense where they knew we didn't have a starting cornerback, to playing defense in games where people didn't think we had an opportunity or chance to show up at. They went from playing a defense where one week something happened and the next week they bounced. They are just resilient. What a resilient group of guys. I have nothing but admiration and respect and love for those guys."