This past Saturday when the seniors of North Carolina State’s football program played their final game at Carter-Finley Stadium, they were joined by All-ACC quarterback Russell Wilson.
He joined his teammates as the 57,161 in the homecoming crowd in Raleigh cheered on their prized signal caller on Senior Day.
There’s only one problem with all this: He’s a junior.
Wilson got to share the limelight with 19 real seniors because he, coach Tom O’Brien and N.C. State don’t know if he’ll return for his real senior season.
The Colorado Rockies selected Wilson, a two-sport star at N.C. State, in the fourth round of last year’s MLB Draft and now he’s considering leaving college to take on a professional baseball career.
So N.C. State, in its infinite wisdom, allows the guy who is about to jet for cash to share the standing ovation meant for guys like senior linebacker Nate Irving.
Irving missed the entire 2009 season after suffering a broken rib, collapsed lung and separated shoulder. He’s made his return to the field this year and leads the Wolfpack in total tackles, tackles for loss and sacks.
Senior Day is a celebration meant for seniors, not just for those who may not be around next season. Hell, if that were the case, most members of a John Calipari team would take the court before the final home game.
When I was a senior at Gastonia’s Ashbrook High School, a junior demanded to share the front row of the football stands for the school’s rivalry game against Hunter Huss because she was transferring school districts the next year.
If you aren’t a senior, you shouldn’t be treated like a senior.
Allow me to anticipate a Wolfpacker’s argument: Wilson already completed his degree, so academically he’s a senior and should be congratulated for such an accomplishment.
The point of Senior Day is not to applaud student athletes for their four years in the classroom. It’s to celebrate their four years in class and on the field.
If fans are supposed to anticipate the departure of star players and salute them like seniors in their final home game, Ashley Judd would have cheered on John Wall every time he dougied onto the Rupp Arena court last year.
As you attend this Saturday’s game, if you feel so moved, applaud North Carolina’s seniors for their four years in Kenan Stadium.
Seventeen players will take the Kenan Stadium field to be honored, and all of them are seniors who have been eligible to play this season.
But if you’re to miss the pregame festivities like Russell Wilson should have last week, you can likely drive to Charlotte next month for the Meineke Car Care Bowl and bid your senior Tar Heels farewell in a virtual home game.
Contact Jonathan Jones at email@example.com.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.