MORGANTOWN - West Virginia coach Bill Stewart figures Saturday will be an emotional day against Rutgers when the Mountaineers say good bye to 20 seniors who have played 38 games of their careers under him.
The list includes running back Noel Devine, receiver Jock Sanders, offensive linemen Eric Jobe and Matt Timmerman, tight end Will Johnson, defensive linemen Scooter Berry and Larry Ford, linebackers Pat Lazear, Anthony Leonard, and J.T. Thomas, defensive backs Brantwon Bowser, Sidney Glover, and Brandon Hogan, holder Jeremy Kash and punter Greg Pugnetti.
All of those guys have been significant contributors to Big East Championship teams and teams that have won BCS bowls during their time in Morgantown.
"This senior class and I have grown together," Stewart said. "I admire, respect and most importantly appreciate all that these seniors have given this program, this university and to the people of West Virginia. In my opinion, this senior class has carried the banner pretty well.
"Each senior class is different. They may look the same, because they have the old gold and blue on, but each senior class is different. I will remember this group, hopefully, with a win Saturday, as a group with their backs against the wall, when people didn't think they could do it, which stepped up to the plate and showed resolve."
It's a safe bet more than a couple of those guys will be playing at the next level in 2011-12 and the underclassmen want to send them out of Mountaineer Field with a victory and, at least, a share of another Big East title.
"No one thought our season would end up like this and it is especially good for the seniors that get to go out strong," sophomore quarterback Geno Smith said.
Junior college transfer and sack artist Bruce Irvin has only been around the seniors for one season, but he'll be playing for them Saturday.
"We just want to go out on top because some of our seniors have been here for four or five years, so we want to let them leave with something they'll always remember," he said.
Smith will lose a pair of his top offensive weapons after Saturday's game and the bowl game in Sanders and Devine.
"It's been a pleasure to work with guys who hold school records and just having them around is great for me as a person, as well as to grow and bond with two great athletes," he said. "When I see them on Sunday Night Football, I can say, 'I played with those guys.'"
The Mountaineers have won eight games for a ninth consecutive season.