“It hasn’t been easy, but the one thing I will say is that the kids have worked hard and they have a good attitude out here,” Sanders said. “Obviously, they have a lot of respect and admiration for Coach Phillips and they want to send him out the right way.”
To their credit, Sanders said the players kept as business as usual approach.
“The way they have gone about their business on the practice field and in the meeting rooms is not much different than how we approach the season,” Sanders said. “They are trying to get better and improve and want to win as much as we do.”
Saturday’s game against Samford is the home finale for Phillips, but it’s also the send off for the seniors.
“There are a million memories that you have whether it be on the practice field, game field, in the meeting room or at dinner some night or at lunch,” Sanders said. “There are a lot of good memories to have. We are going to miss those guys and hopefully we finish this thing out right and can send those guys out with two wins.”
“It was a small group entering the season,” Minter said of the defensive seniors. “We only had five guys that really were into their last hurrah. They have been great leaders for us and we have gotten great production out of them down through the years. UK can be proud of the five that are going to be leaving.
“Collins Ukwu, Taylor Wyndham have been big up front and stalwarts for us and playing all year on almost every play. Then you have the three guys on the back end in Cartier Rice, Martavius Neloms and Mikie Benton and they have all had their ups and downs with the injuries unfortunately,” Minter said. “Nonetheless, they have been great mentors and leaders for the young kids that have come along through the program and have very bright futures here.”
Minter said his side of the team is also using these final two games to improve.
“We talked to our guys and rallied our forces after the day we were informed and said, ‘To our seniors we owe everything to play our best football the last couple of weeks of the season and send them out on a high note,’” Minter said. “This is their memories and photographs for life and also try to send Coach Phillips out on that note.”