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Seniors hope to go out with win

Nov. 17, 1999

By TORIE JOHNSON

Sports Editor

At Tuesday's media luncheon, neither the head coach nor the offensive and defensive coordinators wanted to discuss Saturday's homecoming game. All three men focused on the last football game of the season and the players they have to lead.

Head Coach Kevin Steele said that in his estimation, approximately 23 players will end their Baylor careers against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Floyd Casey Stadium.

Some guys will take their final snaps and make their final plays as Bears, but before they take the final walk up the tunnel, the entire team would like to up its win count to two games for the 1999 season.

'I would give a month's salary for a win,' Steele said. 'It would be special. But at this point in time, the greatest upside is that it gives this senior class something that they deserve . . . When things get difficult in life or in sports, you can quit or finish strong, and I think it sends a message that these guys have finished strong.'

The senior leadership on this year's football team came from the defense. More than half of the defensive unit players who started the majority of the season were seniors.

Tackle Dwight Johnson is the defensive captain and said he wished he could have gotten more for his efforts as a Bear.

'I think the team has had a lot of setbacks because of all the coaching changes and the new programs and all the schemes,' he said. 'So, in a way I do feel gypped.'

Since Johnson and the rest of the senior class came to Baylor in 1995 and 1996, they have had very little success in the Big 12 Conference.

Their poor performances could be attributed to the fact that the group has had to play under three different head coaches and three different schemes in four or five years.

In linebacker Rodney Smith's case, the changes were twice as hard because of the move he made from safety during the off season.

'I gave Baylor University my all for these last three or four years, and things haven't been positive around here, but I'm going to walk away with a smile on my face,' he said. 'Even with the record, you can only do so much. You can only give so much.'

Johnson added that a win against the Cowboys would almost be more important for the returning players than for seniors. He even went so far as to say that it could be the spark that starts the fire for the 2000 season.