Saturday is special, no doubt about it. Everything is on the line on the field. A win and the Badgers get a shot at revenge against Michigan State in the first ever Big Ten Championship game and a shot at the Rose Bowl with a win in that game. It's even more than that for the Seniors who will be entering Camp Randall to play a football game for the very last time.
This Senior Class is special and unique. Special because with a win they will become the only class to have double digit wins in 3 straight seasons. Unique because of how this class was put together and the guys that are at the front of this class. "I've got walk-ons that are captains. I've got transfers that have become critical components of us winning football games," Bielma said. "I've got guys that have had glory coming in maybe went through some trials and tribulation. They're playing good football now, so it's, for me, it's a very, very satisfying day to let our seniors have the big stage."
Sure, every year there are unique stories and coaches laude the efforts of the Seniors about to go through the tunnel and get introduced for the final time, but it's clear by Head Coach Bret Bielema and the players reactions themselves that this is different.
Just look at the defensive side of the ball. According to Bielema at his Monday Press Conference: "You've got Patrick Butrym, Aaron Henry, Kevin Claxton, Antonio Fenelus, who never redshirted. Kind of a group from all over the place that has really gelled to play well together and after some adverse situations. "
Not only have they gelled together, they are the stars of the defense and in the cases of Henry and Fenelus have become all-conference and potential hgh NFL draft picks according to some in that business.
Aaron Henry is one of the best stories in this class. He's clearly formed a bond with his teammates, but also a strong bond with this university. Monday, Bielema told a story about Henry being asked to speak on behalf of all the student-athletes at the scholarship luncheon. "You got people there in the crowd who have given us $250,000 to endow a scholarship is not chump change. So people who mean and who care a lot about the university and Aaron gave a 10 minute speech and there wasn't one `um,' there wasn't one `ah," there wasn't one break in his voice," said Bielema. "I think everybody walked out of there [was] like `Wow."
"They got to see it for 10 minutes, I've gotten to see it for five years." Nearly breaking out in tears Bret went on, "And Aaron and I have had,...we've had our disagreements. I'll be honest and open with him. And on the same account, there's not a kid that means more to me in a program than him, so... he's special."
It's not just coach speak though as fellow Senior and QB, Russell Wilison, who formed an immediate bond with Henry, also had a lot to say about him and what he has brought to this team. "The way he goes about everything he does. He's paasionate about this football program, the university. He's passionate about the guys on this team."
Offensively, things are a bit unique as well, with Russell Wilson only being here for one season and leading the team to where they stand now. "Russell is just kind of a cool cat. He handles everything for what it is. I don't know what it is." Bielema said.
"The thing that's neat that I've really witnessed, I felt has grown with every game... Seeing him interact with our guys. Getting to know a little about bit them from the history of the Axe to go through the trials and tribulations [of] back-to-back games. Didn't miss a beat."
Not only does this team have a shot at becoming unique for 3 straight double digit winning seasons, they have a chance to become one of the all-time great classes with wins in the next three games to tie the all-time wins record for a class at 40, which was last done by the graduating class of 2007.
One more thing that will make this class unique is the guest Captain that will be on the field Saturday for Wisconsin. It will be a special father and son moment as Badgers legend Al Toon will be the guest Captain on his son Nick's Senior Day.
With that, we wish this class all the best and here's the list of all the Seniors we will be saying goodbye to on Saturday at Camp Randall:
OL - Jake Current (60) - Troy, OH
OL - Kevin Zietler (70) - Waukesha, WI
LB - Greg Russo (41) - Lake Mills, WI
LB - Kevin Claxton (9) - Ft. Lauderdale, FL
TE - Jake Byrne (82) - Rogers, AR
DB - Devin Smith (10) - Coppell, TX
P - Brad Nortman (98) - Brookfield, WI
FB - Bradie Ewing (34) - Richland Center, WI
DB - Antonio Fenelus (26) - Boca Raton, FL
DB - Andrew Lukasko (5) - Edgar, WI
K - Philip Welch (18) - Fort Collins, CO
QB - Nate Tice (12) - Edina, MN
WR - Chukwuma Offor (16) - Madison, WI
DL - Patrick Butrym (95) - New Berlin, WI
QB - Russell Wilson (16) - Richmond, VA
LS - Kyle Wojta (62) - Madison, WI
OL - Josh Oglesby (67) - Milwaukee, WI
DB - Aaron Henry (7) - Immokalee, FL
DB - Adam Hampton (25) - Lancaster, WI
DL - Louis Nzegwu (93) - Platteville, WI
WR - Nick Toon (1) - Middleton, WI