Of all the seniors who trotted out through the north end zone tunnel and into Tiger Stadium for the final time on Saturday, receiver Russell Shepard got the biggest round of applause.
But it was another native Texan who can claim a totally different distinction – biggest posse.
Chancey Aghayere, a fifth-year senior defensive tackle from Garland, Tex., made his entrance with three defensive line brethren at his side, a rare occurrence given that none of the trio is in his senior season.
Accompanying Aghayere, and making a genuinely thoughtful gesture to his family members, were juniors Bennie Logan, KeKe Mingo and Sam Montgomery. A group that could just as easily be seen in the trenches together at the same time was making the scene – and a statement – together before kickoff versus Ole Miss.
"Well Chancey recruited me, so I looked up to him my whole career," Logan told reporters after the game. "Chancey gave a lot to this defense, even though he was injured a lot of times in his career, but when he was healthy he was giving us his all. So I wanted to give thanks to him for mentoring me the whole time he was here, guiding me through the college experience and just helping me be the player that I became.
"I just wanted to thank him, and I love him for his support through this year."
Another of the juniors felt equally obliged to Aghayere, a career backup, but had a decidedly more defensive edge in his explanation of the act.
"It was the last time I'll ever run out onto the field with Chancey, and regardless of if I got in trouble or have to run on Monday for it, that's one thing that no one can ever take away from me," Montgomery explained with some gravity and defiance behind his words. "I believe there are some things in life that's worth getting in trouble for. They're the right causes, it's right in your heart and you have a good moral reason, I believe that some things, hey, I'll take this one."
Mingo, the third musketeer, sang a similar tune.
If it wasn't already clear, Mingo made it crystal that Aghayere is a big part of the spirit of LSU's defensive line, even if he hasn't been the big name as plenty of others have cycled through Brick Haley's unit.
"Honestly it was us doing it for him," said Mingo. "It was his last (home) game as a senior. We just wanted to be there with him and share it with him."
Many speculated at the time of the four-man entry that it was the juniors' way of gaining recognition in advance of what could be their final game in Death Valley as well.
At least one of the players said that wasn't the case.
"It was Chancey's idea," Mingo continued with a smile. "He asked us if we wanted to go out there with him. He wanted the whole defense at one time, but I guess everybody was in the back. We had already talked about it earlier in the week, and we just ran out with him."
On the topic of going pro early, however, two of the Tiger juniors did have responses – one markedly more revealing than the other.
"Nah, this was definitely not my last game," Logan told reporters with a slight laugh. "I will be back next year in Tiger Stadium, so this was definitely not my last game (here)."
Whether or not Logan is being truthful is another story for another day.
Mingo gave the more polished answer when asked if he had made a decision on his future. "Not yet. It's too early to tell. Honestly I'm just looking forward to the games I have left to play this season."
And so Logan, Mingo and Montgomery will all ride off into the final two ballgames of the 2012 campaign with the same mentality and, ultimately, the same decision to make in the relatively near future.
For at least one afternoon, though, in front of almost 100,000 people inside the team's football sanctuary, they rode with a guy that means a heckuva lot to them.
Walking out with Chancey
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