Despite senior day, Allen, Frey and Holmes still have work to do
Senior running back Gerald Holmes knew there was football still left to play this season, but following MSU’s 17-7 win over Maryland, it was hard for him not to recognize the meaning of Saturday's game.
While some of his teammates reminded him that there is still more to play for in 2017, Holmes couldn’t hold back the emotions of playing in his final game at Spartan Stadium.
Succumbed by emotions, the Michigan native shed a few tears once it all set in after the game that Saturday would be his final home game in the green and white.
“They weren’t tears that the season’s over, it’s tears that this is the last battle here,” he said after the game. “We’re off to Rutgers and to a bowl game. I’m not stepping into Spartan Stadium anymore, so that’s where that came from.”
Holmes ended Saturday with 11 carries for a season-high 64 yards rushing, which was second on the team behind LJ Scott’s 147 yards.
“It was a long run and a long journey,” Holmes said. “The biggest thing is when you play with multiple guys over the years at Spartan Stadium and knowing when that time ends, you won’t be able to get back on the field with them. So, definitely, it was an emotional thing, but it was also a blessing.”
Senior Brian Allen was able to hold in his emotions Saturday, but that didn’t take away his opportunity to soak the weekend in.
“I really didn’t get that emotional,” he said. “Everything I did, I kept telling myself this is the last time I’m going to do this as a player. It’s kind of sad to think about it.”
In the offseason, fans and media alike projected MSU to have only a slightly better season in 2017 than its 3-9 season in 2016, but the team knew they were completely capable of proving the naysayers wrong.
“Nobody expected us to be there; I’ll tell you that,” linebacker Chris Frey said. “A lot of people expected us to win three, four, five games again. We knew as a team going in this season with the guys that we had on this roster and the mentality that we had as a team that that wasn’t the case and we were going to prove people wrong. And as a senior class, we wanted to take Michigan State and put it back where it’s supposed to be, and I think we’ve done a very good job of that.”
Frey said the quick turnaround from a 3-9 season in 2016 to a bowl-eligible, potential 10-win season in 2017 will be something he can reminisce on 20 years from now.
“It’s something that all of us talked about in our senior speeches — having the opportunity to be a senior and a leader on a team that was 3-9 and be able to put them back on top and back where Michigan State Spartans are supposed to be,” he said. “So, it’s definitely satisfying, but at the same time, we got to win two more games. And to be able to put ten wins on a record is impressive, even if we don’t go to a Big Ten Championship.”
Since 2014, this year’s senior class has aided MSU to a 34-16 record, two bowl berths and a conference title.
With a team stocked with youth, the seniors on the roster used their leadership to propel this team to the unexpected.
“To me, what sticks out about our senior class is that they’re the bounce-back class, really,” head coach Mark Dantonio said. “After last season, they came in this year with a lot of young players — not a very big senior class — and they had to make something out of it, because it starts with them, it starts with their leadership.”
The team won’t be headed to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship, but Frey isn’t letting up on this season.
“Obviously, we’re not going back to the Big Ten Championship, and that was one of our goals,” Frey said, “but the same time, we’re fighting for our ninth win, and we have an opportunity to win a bowl game and win 10, and not many other teams will be able to say that.”