The end of the college football season always brings about the inevitable end to several notable careers that have stood out over the past four or five years. While the class of 19 seniors at West Virginia this season might be small in numbers when compared to most classes, its collaborative accomplishments are unparalleled in WVU history.
Of course it all starts with Pat White, the man who many consider to be the greatest player in school history. The holder of more than a dozen combined WVU, Big East and NCAA records, White has set a new gold standard for the quarterback position at West Virginia.
Kicker Pat McAfee will leave as the school's all-time leading scorer. And though he came to WVU as just a kicker, McAfee added punting duties to his repertoire mid-way through the 2006 season. Since that time, he's become the best Mountaineer at that position since former All-American Todd Sauerbraun. McAfee was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, and has been honored as a member of multiple All-American teams this season.
Offensive lineman Ryan Stanchek has played guard, tackle and even recorded a pass reception in his illustrious WVU career. A gentle giant off the field, Stanchek flips the switch between the lines, morphing into an intense warrior from snap to whistle. Stanchek was named to five different All-American teams in 2007, and was honored this season on the Walter Camp and Phil Steele squads.
Then, there's linebacker Mortty Ivy. The Monroeville, Pa. native has put together a spectacular, if unheralded, career as a key cog in West Virginia's defense. Ivy has played all three linebacker positions during his time in Morgantown, starting last season at Will before flipping to Sam this year. He also filled in at times in the middle for the injured Reed Williams. He's played on a number of special teams, and was honored by his teammates as a captain for the 2008 season.
On Saturday, Ivy will take the field one final time as a Mountaineer, hoping to win his fourth bowl game in as many tries. Even with the chance for the fourth consecutive bowl victory, Ivy can't help but be a little bit down as he prepares for his final collegiate game.
"It's kind of depressing because you're going to miss all the guys and the family that I've got here," Ivy said last week. "It's just another chapter I've got to close and move on to the real world. So, I'm going to miss the guys, the coaches, the fans and the senior class because that's who I grew up with and spent all of my time with."
The 6-2, 236-pound linebacker can still remember his redshirt season of 2004. While Rasheed Marshall, Chris Henry and company were going through the ups and downs of a season of unfulfilled expectations, Ivy was busting his hump every afternoon on the scout team.
So, too, was a fresh faced quarterback named Pat White. Even in that year of sitting out, the duo was planning big things for their future at WVU.
"I knew that he would be great, a great player," Ivy said of his offensive counterpart. "With me coming in with him, we were always saying that we had to build it, we had to put ourselves on the map. We were able to do that."
They did that, and then some. As a class, these Mountaineer seniors are currently tied for the winningest record in school history. A win over North Carolina in Saturday's Meineke Car Care Bowl (1:00 PM on ESPN) would put Ivy and company over the top.
Having won two Big East Championships, a Sugar Bowl, a Gator Bowl and last season's Fiesta Bowl, you would think that finishing with more wins than any other class would be just another notch in a belt full of them. According to Ivy, finishing with that record might mean more than anything else the seniors have accomplished.
"Everyone remembers that until the next team breaks it," he noted. "That's what our seniors want to go out with, being the winningest senior class."
Win or lose, Saturday's game will mark the end of a dominant era for the 19 seniors. Ivy is one of a handful with a chance to continue his career in the NFL. Arguably, with his size and ability to play special teams as well as multiple linebacker positions, Ivy's NFL hopes are the best of any Mountaineer senior.
"A lot of people say I have a shot to go to the next level, so I'm going to give it a shot and see what happens," he said. "If I make it, I make it. If I don't, I have my degree, so I can find a career."
Mortty Ivy's name might not be the first that comes to mind when one thinks of this particular senior class. Despite his under-the-radar status of his career, though, few have been more successful than No. 44.