Senior class ready to get recognized during final home gameBy Matthew Speakman | 11/15/2017 10:41pm
Every year, Alabama reloads and rebuilds. The team is designed to have no drop-off from year to year. It has maintained a level of dominance that has been unparalleled in college football.
Lost in all of that is the dedication the players put in to make sure the team stays the course. In some cases, players dedicate four years of their lives to Alabama. Some get noticed with awards, but some fly under the radar.
For those players, senior day marks a special time. The players get recognized on the field with their family in front of fans who have supported them for most of their careers.
For defensive back Anthony Averett, having his parents with him will be a full-circle moment.
"My emotions are going to be very high,” Averett said. I've been here for a while, my fifth year. I remember my first time I came here [to] Bryant-Denny, I think it was recruiting, think it was in 2012 or 2013 spring game. That was my first time here and that was really blessful. Now my family is going to be here for this last game so it's going to be fun."
This senior class has gone 50-4 over its four years so far. The class was instrumental in Alabama making the College Football Playoff every year since its inception in 2014. This class also had a big hand in Alabama winning the national championship in 2015.
Last season, many players from the 2017 class, including Averett, had an important role in the team making it to the national championship.
Head coach Nick Saban reflected on the effect the seniors have had on Alabama’s program.
“This group has made a tremendous contribution to the success of the program, not only in how they’ve played and performed but how they’ve represented the University on and off the field,” Saban said. “They’ve provided a tremendous amount of leadership for the young players. We haven’t had a lot of issues and problems with any of these guys. They’ve really been great ambassadors for the University.”
Among the seniors is kicker Andy Pappanastos. Pappanastos transferred to Alabama after his redshirt sophomore year. In his first year, he sat behind kicker Adam Griffith. In his final year, he has provided consistency on special teams.
He has made 15 of his 19 attempts. Five of his field goals have come beyond 40 yards.
“Senior day is going to be important for me,” Pappanastos said. “It’s going to be nice to have my family here, and we’re really going to enjoy it. But at the end of the day, I’m coming to do my best and hopefully we’ll look good and move on.”
This class, like most Alabama senior classes as of late, is defined by its wins. They process opponents and rarely feel defeat. Still, emotions will most likely run high for senior day.
“The only thing that gets me is when I go out there to shake hands and say hi to their parents, give them a hug and a kiss to their moms that it just seems like yesterday that we were just recruiting them, and it just goes by so fast,” Saban said. “But I think we have a tremendous amount of guys in this class that are going to be successful in life and that’s the goal of our program here.”
Saban said that is one of the defining characteristics of senior day. He, and a lot of members of Alabama’s coaching staff, builds relationships with the player’s parents. After all, a coach has to convince not only the player, but his family that the school is right for him.
As another senior day rolls around, Saban said that is what makes him the most emotional.
“We’re kind of in partnership with the parents," Saban said. "We’re trying to help our players be successful. We don’t get to see them a lot, but sometimes you communicate with them and it’s always good to see them again and see how proud they are, of not only their son being a player here, but also we’ve had a really high success rate of our players graduating and it’s a really good family moment for everyone.”