Miami’s seniors hit the field for final home game

Jon Feliciano (70), Ereck Flowers (74) and Taylor Gadbois (76) gather around offensive line coach Art Kehoe on the sideline during Miami’s loss to Virginia Tech. Nick Gangemi // Assistant Photo Editor
Jon Feliciano (70), Ereck Flowers (74) and Taylor Gadbois (76) gather around offensive line coach Art Kehoe on the sideline during Miami’s loss to Virginia Tech. Nick Gangemi // Assistant Photo Editor

At noon Saturday, the Miami Hurricanes (7-3, 3-3 ACC) will kick off at Sun Life Stadium for the final time this season against the Virginia Cavaliers (2-8, 0-6 ACC).

Despite the heartbreak of three consecutive losses, this game is not about the rankings or national media attention, but rather a celebration of 26 Hurricanes marching onto their home field one last time.

It’s an opportunity for Miami’s senior leaders to cement their mark on Hurricane history. Quarterback Stephen Morris is one of only four 7,000-yard passers in program history and will look to continue to rack up big stats through the air.

Wide receiver Allen Hurns needs 161 yards to post the fourth 1,000-yard receiving season in school history.

Traditionally, the Cavaliers evoke a collective groan of dread from fellow seniors. While the overall series is tied 5-5 (2-2 in games played on Miami’s home field), Virginia has won the last three meetings.

This year, there is at least one swing in the Hurricanes’ favor: Senior defensive tackle Justin Renfrow will line up on Miami’s side.

A former Cavalier, Renfrow has consistently made his presence felt since transferring to UM from Virginia. He forced a fumble and had a season-high six tackles against Georgia Tech, a number he matched last week at Duke.

“We needed guys that could come in and help us. Justin is a very inquisitive kid, very bright kid, he has brought some maturity there – not just physical, but mental maturity,” coach Al Golden said. “Whatever ways they parted on, we’ve really never talked about it. It’s always been about what he’s going to do to help us, getting a graduate degree at Miami and all that. It wasn’t about where he left and even this week, he’s just trying to get ready to play.”

Renfrow will end his college career a Cane, alongside 25 of his teammates and a senior class of Hurricanes watching from the stands or supporting Miami from wherever their Thanksgiving travels may take them.

It’s a moment we all can relate to. The moment we will cherish with nostalgia as it passes. This senior class has made it through the darkest of days shrouded by NCAA woes and subpar play on the field. But the seniors stuck together and prevailed, clear into the path of the Golden era. This 2013 season is only the beginning of Miami’s return to greatness.

Saturday might remind us exactly what it means to be a Cane. From across Florida, the United States and the globe, innumerable factors drew us to the U.

There’s nothing more uniting for our diverse student body than a fierce Sebastian spell-out. Few things can match the energy of our Hurricanes rushing through the legendary smoke. Try to match the pride you feel when you raise an index finger and sing the alma mater, win or lose.

As Hurricanes, we’ve grown up, discovered our passions and built a legacy that is all our own – on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

Celebrate it together, seniors, one last time.

“They stood with us when it was really hard,” Golden said, reflecting on his veteran core. “I know for the most part it’s over now, but there really weren’t many days where they could see the future in the last two years, the last 28 months. Those guys, I’m really proud of them for the way they’ve delivered us through this. They’ve adopted somebody else’s problem as their own. They fought through it, they resolved it and they’re allowing us to move forward now. I just want to make sure everyone in our organization understands how pivotal that was for us, and that we send them off the right way.”