Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino will say goodbye to a special group of players Saturday.
Seventeen seniors will take the field for the last time inside Razorback Stadium when Arkansas hosts Tennessee on senior night.
This group was one of the main building blocks responsible for elevating Arkansas’ football program to where it is today and Petrino acknowledged as much Wednesday.
It helped him get through a tough first year in 2008. The Hogs went 5-7, but finished the season with a 31-30 win over LSU in Little Rock, Ark. The season ended without a bowl, but that win helped give this program momentum into Petrino’s second year.
“The greatest thing about this group of seniors that play their last game here on Saturday is that year they were freshmen and they were all playing as true freshmen, they came to practice with positive attitudes and energy to work and get better and eagerness,” Petrino said. “That’s really what carried us through that year was we had great attitude and great work ethic. It’s certainly paid off here in the last three years.
Since 2008, Petrino and the Hogs have gone 26-9. Petrino even took Arkansas to its first BCS bowl last year and are on the doorstep of another BCS birth this season.
Some of the seniors Petrino and the Arkansas fan base will be saying goodbye to include defensive end Jake Bequette, linebacker Jerry Franklin, safety Tramain Thomas, safety/linebacker Jerico Nelson and wide receivers Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright.
Saturday could be even more special for Adams and Wright, who are just a few catches each from breaking the school record for career receptions held by Anthony Eubanks, who finished with 153. Adams currently has 151 career catches, while Wright has 150.
Wright has recorded 2,629 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career, while Adams has recorded 2,274 yards and 17 scores.
Wright has arguably been the top receiver in the SEC this season, leading the league with 48 catches, 812 yards and nine touchdowns. Adams has 41 catches for 516 yards and one score on the year.
Saying goodbye to those two could be especially hard Saturday.
“They’ve both had a tremendous career here, having a great year this year, have really meant a lot to our football team,” Petrino said.
“You can’t say enough about what they’ve done at the University of Arkansas.”