Some of Cole Tracy’s teammates couldn’t believe it.
When Ed Orgeron asked his 18 seniors to stand in Monday’s team meeting, Tracy, a graduate transfer kicker from Assumption College, rose with them – much to the shock of a few other Tigers.
“Some guys on the team, I think they figured that because I was a grad transfer, I had another year of eligibility,” Tracy said after Saturday’s 42-10 win over Rice. “There were guys, when Coach O had us all stand up during Monday’s meeting, like, ‘Wait, Cole, you’re gone?’
“Yep, I’m out like that.”
Just like that. That’s how every senior who spoke to the media Saturday night following Senior Day summed up his career, whether it was Tracy – a one-year wonder who has connected on 22-of-25 field goals this season – or four and five-year seniors like Foster Moreau, Nick Brossette, and Garrett Brumfield.
For Brumfield, getting back on the field at all was a massive relief. LSU’s starting left guard when down with a knee injury earlier in the season against Louisiana Tech, and he wondered if he’d ever be back on the field in Tiger Stadium.
He returned to action against Alabama and played most of Saturday night’s win over the Owls, as the Tigers rushed for 180 yards and kept quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Myles Brennan clean enough to throw for another 372 yards.
“I wasn’t scared,” he said of his injury. “I’m saying this with a smile on my face now, but it was a bad moment. I didn’t think it was the end of the world. I knew the guys around me would more than pick up the slack, and they did exactly that.”
In the meantime, Brumfield emerged as a mentor for freshman Chasen Hines – his “grasshopper,” if you will.
“He’s the grasshopper, I’m the sensei,” Brumfield laughs. “I joke with him and tell him, ‘Can you grab this pebble from my hand?’ He’s done nothing but grow and flourish, and I’m so proud of him.”
Brumfield’s high school teammate Brossette has flourished as much as any senior this season, bringing his season totals to 861 yards and 13 touchdowns after rushing for 69 yards and two scores on Saturday. The Baton Rouge native dedicated his final year to his brother, Mendel Esnault, who passed away during Brossette’s senior year at University High School. Before the game, Brossette took the field to his family and a banner with Esnault’s likeness on it, and after the game, he wore a chain featuring a locket with his brother’s picture.
“I felt like I had to honor him,” Brossette said. “That’s why I wore it today.”
The statistical star of the day was Moreau, who posted career highs with five receptions for 73 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Honored before the season with the No. 18 uniform reserved for LSU’s top leader, Moreau’s final catch in Tiger Stadium went for, fittingly enough, 18 yards.
His leadership has been vital as the Tigers near their first 10-win season since 2012, but Moreau insists he’s a small part of a larger whole.
“You can’t just put it on a single guy,” he says. “You can give a guy a number and tell him to go lead, but if the other 50 guys on the team aren’t leading with him, it makes it hard. We are doing so well because our team is filled with leaders, on and off the field. Guys who go to practice, have high character, go to class, go to tutors, they’re not late. It goes a long way.”
Now, the Tigers look to close out the season with a trip to Texas A&M and a chance to at least clinch a New Year’s Six bowl berth with a win. If other factors fall their way, there’s a chance for an even sweeter prize, but that’s out of their control.
What they can control, they all agree, is making sure they leave LSU better than it was when they arrived, and a tenth – and, eventually, eleventh – win would do just the trick.
“LSU hasn’t had a 10-win season in a long time and gone to a good bowl game like this in a long time,” said Brossette. “I’m just trying to put LSU back where it needs to be.”