For The Seniors

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Some people may believe today's game against Maryland is meaningless, but don't tell that to Doeren and his players.

Some people may believe Saturday's game against Maryland is meaningless, but don't tell that to Doeren and his players.

They want to win for 21 players on the team... the senior class.

"That will be our entire mindset of the week," said Doeren earlier this week. "To help our seniors walk out of Carter-Finley the way they would want to, playing the game the right way, playing for each other and celebrating them, not just on gameday but throughout the week.

"I appreciate all 21 of our seniors. There's 15 on scholarship and six walk-ons that will be out there for the last time this game. I know they will be excited, it will be emotional, and it will be nice to see them and their families that can make it pre-game."

It's obviously been a difficult season for Doeren and the Wolfpack, who started 3-1 before losing seven-straight games leading up to the finale. There has been a rash of injuries that has led to young players probably being asked to play before they were really ready and some seniors have been asked to make sacrifices to help the team compete.

For instance, starting cornerback Dontae Johnson moved to safety the week after fellow senior Jarvis Byrd went down with an ACL injury. Ryan Cheek made a similar move to fullback during fall camp after playing four seasons at linebacker.

As a whole it seems the entire senior class bought in to what Doeren and his staff have been trying to instill in Raleigh.

"All the guys, even though I've only had them nine or ten months, have grown a lot this year," said Doeren. "It's always one of the biggest honors as a coach, to try and send those guys out the way they want to be, with a win."

Because of the emotion surrounding a Senior Day game, Doeren says his staff needs to be smart with their gameplan.

"It's a week where there will be a lot of emotion from the seniors," he stated. "We need to have a good plan that's simple and lets them play fast and physical."

Some of the seniors have played a lot, like offensive guard Duran Christophe, who has made 29 career starts for the Wolfpack. Others haven't played as much, such as quarterback Brandon Mitchell, who will be making just his sixth start. He understands the team's motivation, but added that the seniors have their own reason to depart with a victory.

"Obviously the goal this week is trying to send all the seniors out the right way," Mitchell said. "[But] also help the program for building into the spring sand recruiting.

"As seniors, we got together because we know we need this win for them so they can go out and recruit [on] a positive note."

"It's the last time we'll be together as a team," added Doeren. "Next year's team will be different. There will be 21 less guys and 26 new guys, so as hard as it's been we've grown very close as a team.

"These guys want to see our seniors finish the year the way they deserve to finish it."


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