Strathman: Seniors deserve recognition for battling

Four years ago, the Kansas football seniors arrived on campus. The players immediately bonded as bewildered freshmen and built a brotherhood with teammates. They watched the seniors at that time play their last football game at Memorial Stadium.

On Saturday, those same players walked onto the field and played their last home football game. Despite nontraditional black uniforms and a strong first quarter, Kansas lost 51-23 to Iowa State.

Yes, the record stands at 1-10 on the season with only one game left, but this senior class deserves major recognition for the many bumps on the road.

Most of these seniors arrived in 2009, playing for former coach Mark Mangino. Shortly after, Mangino was fired, and coach Turner Gill stepped onto the scene for two short years. And after Gill’s firing, Charlie Weis is now at the helm.

All of those coaching changes made it difficult on these players. The seniors easily could have transferred to a different university or quit.

Instead, most stayed and continued to fight for the University.

If coaching changes weren’t enough, some players switched positions. Wide receiver Kale Pick switched from quarterback. Defensive end Toben Opurum bulked up for his new position after being a running back. Safety Bradley McDougald flipped to defense after being a wide receiver.

There are many more players with switches, but those players all could have left. Instead, they continued to fight.

Even injuries hurt these seniors along the way. Offensive lineman Trevor Marrongelli suffered a season-ending leg injury during his sophomore year. Wide receiver Daymond Patterson played against McNeese State and didn’t play for the rest of last season.

Still, after the scrapes, strained muscles and broken bones, they continued to push through the pain.

Most of these players barely have 10 or more victories in their four-to-five-year tenure. In the Big 12, some players only have two conference victories.

Though the win-loss column might be awful, this senior class succeeded in different ways.

Offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson set a Kansas record with his 47th consecutive start. He also tied the Kansas all-time start record of 47. Wide receiver D.J. Beshears passed the 2,000-yard mark for career kick return yards with 2,059, which is second all-time. Beshears only needs 17 yards to break the career record.

In the classroom, six players were selected to Academic All-Big 12 teams. Marrongelli became the fourth Jayhawk to earn his fourth selection to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team.

The seniors may not have the best record at Kansas, but the things that they do should be noted. Whether it’s battling back from a season injury or adjusting to coaches, these seniors have put in the time and work to represent the University.

One victory this season could easily be five, and the resiliency and ability to compete was always there. The seniors never gave up.

Thank you, seniors. Be proud of your years of hard work for the program and University.

Pat Strathman is a journalism major from Seneca, Kan. Read more from .

  • Updated Nov. 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm
  • Edited by Christy Khamphilay