Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 11/25/11
TUCSON There are memories full of moments both high and low. Arizona's seniors will choose to live the high ones. From knocking off No. 9 Iowa (37-34) last season to No. 25 California (42-27) in 2008 to going to three consecutive bowl games and, well, beating Arizona State three of four years, they always will be proud moments to this season's seniors. Saturday in Arizona Stadium against visiting Louisiana-Lafayette it'll all come to an end. The curtain closes for 19 seniors who started their careers with Mike Stoops and ended it with interim coach Tim Kish. Their legacy? Plenty. "They helped promote and were part of a winning culture," said Kish. "They set a good foundation for the upcoming class, proving to people that even through the toughest of adversity they were able to fight their way through it and learn a life lesson." After all, isn't that what college is all about? Living and learning. Arizona's seniors had their fair share, including winning big games and losing ones many thought were not possible. None, however, will take the memories back. They've had their share of fun. "There have been a lot of ups and downs," said Bryson Beirne, a fifth year senior who last week filled in for senior quarterback Nick Foles after he went down with a rib injury. "I sat on the bench for a while, but I wouldn't take back anything. I definitely left this program better than when I came here." All of them did. When all or most arrived, Arizona, under Stoops, was still trying to find its footing. Stoops was in his fourth year and still in search of his first winning season. It came in 2008 when most of this year's seniors were freshmen. Earlier this week, Foles defended his former coach, saying he had brought the program back to respectability and Stoops should be appreciated for it. One thing is certain Foles appreciated Stoops. He gave him a chance to flourish, becoming the school's all-time leading in passing yards (9,659) and is now three touchdown passes shy (64) of tying Willie Tuitama for first all-time. He also holds three of the top four single season completion totals. Saturday, there's still a question whether he'll be able to finish out his career in front of his fans. Foles said he "plans on" playing despite suffering a left rib contusion in last week's 31-27 win over Arizona State. He also said he expects to be emotional with it being his last college game. "I love this city and I love this school," he said. As for the gaudy numbers, well, he really doesn't care what they are. He was more concerned with the victories. "I just hope people don't look at the stats," he said. "I just want people to know when I hit the field I gave it everything I had. I may have made some mistakes, but I think, at the end of the day, I laid it on the field and gave it my all." Like last weekend in what many said was their "most memorable" moment as UA came from behind to defeat ASU, 31-27, for the third time in four years. "Nothing tops that," said UA running back Keola Antolin, who said he had a good career in rushing for more than 2,000 yards. "That's a big thing for me." UA's win against Iowa last season was also a highlight, beating the Hawkeyes in front of national television audience, and then seeing the fans storm the field. "It's big because that was my first time in that type of situation coming from JuCo," said linebacker Paul Vassallo, a junior college transfer. He also said beating UCLA (48-12) this season, a few days after Stoops was fired, was big. Everything must have seemed so for Vassallo, who along with Foles were more or less the team's spokespeople after wins and losses. He was always the voice of reason after games. "Everything has been a positive experience," said Vassallo. "It's not time to reflect yet but when it does come I'll know that I have met a lot of good friends. I'm just happy that I came (to Arizona)." As is Gino Crump, who had what may be considered the play of the year when he eluded a number of would-be ASU tacklers last week to find the end zone to keep UA's hopes alive early in the fourth quarter. He found a home at UA after attending Glendale Community College and transferring from West Virginia. He said there were a number of "trials and triumphs." "There have been a lot of ups and downs but I've enjoyed it," said Crump. "You grow with the guys here. It's an experience of a lifetime. That (TD against ASU) will go down in my personal hall of fame. There will be a lot of plays I'll remember but that's at the top." Fellow receiver David Douglas has his own, too. It's the over-the-shoulder catch he had against Utah that made for a national top play. But the victory over Iowa, where he had a touchdown, was also memorable. "It's been incredible," said Douglas, who was one of the early commitments back in 2008. "When you see the (former players) come back, you see it's more about the relationships and the experience you had. Wins and losses are important and the bowl games are important, but I've met some great friends. It was a great experience." NOTES: The group of seniors who will be honored on Saturday are: receivers Juron Criner, David Roberts, Douglas and Crump; running backs Antolin and David Hill; defensive backs Robert Golden, Trevin Wade, Lyle Brown and Adam Gottschalk; linebackers Derek Earls, Vassallo and Bilal Muhammad; defensive ends C.J. Parish and Mohammed Usman; kicker Alex Zendejas; and long snapper David Highberger.
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