Auburn Football: Auburn's Senior Class Has Had a Roller-Coaster Ride in 4 Years
On Saturday, Auburn will celebrate its 13 seniors as they play their last game inside of Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Other than Bell (who came to Auburn in 2008), this class was a part of head coach Gene Chizik's first recruiting class in 2009.
These seniors have seen the best and the worst in their time on the Plains. It has been a roller-coaster ride.
In 2009, Auburn had an 8-5 season in Chizik's first year, including an OT win over Northwestern in the Outback bowl.
That year, even though it was mediocre, will undoubtedly be looked at fondly by Auburn fans.
There was that September night when Auburn students partied away in the "Rain Game" against West Virginia.
A 2-star recruit out of Olive Branch, MS named Daren Bates continued to impress as a true freshman starter at safety as he had four tackles in the game.
In the 2009 Iron Bowl, freshman Jonathan Evans earned his first career start and recorded eight tackles as the Tigers nearly upset the eventual national champions.
These freshmen from 2009 didn't know it then, but they would soon be at the top of their roller-coaster ride.
Auburn fans had high hopes in 2010, and this year's senior class played a big part in Auburn's run to the BCS national championship.
The summer before the championship season, rumors spread around the Auburn campus that sophomore RB Onterio McCalebb chased down a squirrel and caught it with his bare hands. No one believed it.
After seeing McCalebb leave the LSU defense in a cloud of dust after a 70-yard TD run to seal the game, Auburn fans had no doubt it happened.
A dance craze called "the Lutzie" was invented when sophomore Phillip Lutzenkirchen caught a TD pass in the 2010 Iron Bowl. That catch put Auburn ahead for good in a monumental comeback. Lutzenkirchen developed into nearly every Auburn fan's favorite player in his time on the Plains.
Sophomore defensive back T'Sharvan Bell delivered a hit that all Auburn fans will remember on Alabama QB Greg McElroy to thwart the Crimson Tide comeback that day.
After winning the SEC championship two weeks later, these players were on their way to Glendale, AZ to play for a national championship.
In the national championship game, a sophomore receiver named Emory Blake had a TD reception late in the first half to put Auburn ahead of Oregon. Blake and the Tigers lifted the crystal football later that night.
The roller-coaster ride had reached its peak and could not continue going up for this year's senior class in 2011. The Tigers went 8-5 and suffered blowout losses to their biggest rivals.
A junior at the time, Travante Stallworth nearly twisted a Utah State defensive back's ankles in the 2011 opener that Auburn won in the final minute.
This senior class ended their junior season with a win over Virginia in the Chick-fil-A bowl on New Year's Eve.
The roller coaster was supposed to stop descending after the 2011 season. Instead, it kept going downhill.
This year has seen only two Auburn wins. One of the only highlights of the year for these seniors is LB Ashton Richardson. It's not a football highlight, either. Richardson will miss Saturday's game because he will be interviewing for a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
Bell realizes the unique ride these seniors have been on. "We’ve been to the highest and this is the lowest we’ve been here at Auburn in a long time," Bell said. (via Charles Goldberg, AL.com)
Despite the two-win season in 2012, these seniors boast a 32-18 record in their time at Auburn.
Bell, Bates, Blake, Evans, Lutzenkirchen, McCalebb, Richardson, Stallworth, Deangelo Benton, Ikeem Means, Anthony Morgan, John Sullen and Jamar Travis will be honored in the pregame ceremonies on Saturday.
These seniors have seen the both the highs and the lows as Auburn football players, and their roller-coaster ride will be complete when they walk off the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium in two weeks.
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