Lamin Barrow’s 50th and final sprint from the Tiger Stadium tunnel Friday will be somber.
He’ll be the first to admit it. The anchor of an often-maligned LSU defense, the senior linebacker said earlier this week he’s still trying to find the right words to encapsulate his four years in Baton Rouge.
Fourteen classmates and their families will join Barrow on Friday afternoon for one final time in Tiger Stadium, many of whom mimic Barrow as they struggle to come to terms with their last home game.
“I don’t know how I’m going to react to it,” said senior safety Craig Loston. “I don’t know whether to be happy or shed a couple of tears at this point.”
Loston said he’s expecting around 15 people to greet him on the field in pregame.
The Houston native, perhaps most remembered for his 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in last season’s 37-17 Homecoming victory against Mississippi State, refused to peg that play as his lasting memory.
While Loston awaits his play in the final two games before looking back on his legacy, junior fullback Connor Neighbors has begun writing the legacy of his roommate and best friend – senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
Neighbors heralded Mettenberger’s tenacity in the face of adversity – whether it be from his unceremonious exit from Georgia, his time at Butler Community College or the constant derision flung his way from outsiders.
“Any of a lesser man would just quit,” Neighbors said. “Put up the cleats and just quit. It hasn’t always been smiles. For him to come back and show the real person he is, how tough he is, it shows his personality. “
Although Mettenberger forecasted that Senior Day festivities would be depressing, Neighbors asserted the Watkinsville, Ga. native has cemented himself among the Tiger greats.
“As a first year starter he had some troubles and stuff,” Neighbors said. “But coming back for his senior year and being molded as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, hopefully that’ll be what he’s remembered as.”
Aside from the fifteen seniors who will be honored, a handful of draft-eligible Tigers could be playing their last games in Baton Rouge, including the junior receiving duo of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.
Both were tight-lipped about their futures this week, claiming their focus remains solely on Arkansas and the upcoming contest.
But if words are any indication, Landry gave a favorable hint when asked whether he was ready to move on and give back to his mother and brother.
“My greatest gift would be my degree,” Landry said. “This time next year, I’ll be graduating. That’s one of the reasons I really want to stay. That’s one of the gifts that nobody can ever take from me or my family.”
Still, a decision looms for some. The common theme among those players, though, was the decision is squarely on the back burner.
“I definitely want to send Lamin Barrow, Craig Loston out with a W,” said junior defensive tackle Ego Ferguson. “They’ve been here for a long time and gave us their all. Would be the perfect way to send them out.”
And although Friday’s senior day festivities have been on his mind “for a little minute,” Barrow stopped on Monday to remember his daughter, Laila.
“She watches the games on TV and comes to the games, but she always talks about being on the field,” Barrow said.
Friday, Laila gets her wish.
She’ll join Barrow’s mother, father, grandfather and other extended family as another No. 18 – their No. 18 – ends his Tiger career.
“Just to capture that at that time and get pictures, it’ll be something I cherish forever,” Barrow said.