MORGANTOWN - Senior Day at Milan Puskar Stadium was exciting. It was emotional. And, it was the final time Mountaineer fans received an opportunity to seen 21 West Virginia players perform for the final time, at least at Mountaineer Field.
Including Parkersburg native son Josh Jenkins.
"I can't believe this was the last one (home game)," Jenkins said following WVU's 59-10 thumping of Kansas University. "I'm happy I made it back and I'm happy with the decision I made in 2008."
A decision that came after several high-profile head coaches - including Kansas coach Charlie Weis when he was the head coach at Notre Dame - made the trek to Parkersburg High School to attempt to lure the state's only two-time winner of the Hunt Award to their respective campuses.
"I made the right choice," continued Jenkins, who missed the entire 2011 season while recovering from his second knee injury of his career. "I am very satisfied with my time here and I wouldn't trade my experience here for anything."
But, an experience he is ready to conclude following the old gold and blue's 11th consecutive bowl appearance when the Mountaineers meet Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 27.
"I'm ready to move on to the next level," said Jenkins. "I think the coaches here have prepared me for what is ahead and I'm ready to face that new challenge."
Jenkins went through several coaching changes during his time in Parkersburg.
The first came before the 300-pounder even stepped foot on campus when Rich Rodriguez left his alma mater to take over at the University of Michigan.
Newly appointed head coach Bill Stewart, who coached the team on an interim basis as it prepared to face a heavily favored Oklahoma team in the Fiesta Bowl, made it a top priority to keep Jenkins in the Mountaineers' recruiting class.
He did, but back-to-back-to-back 9-win seasons wouldn't be enough to keep the New Martinsville native at the helm of the program, bringing in offensive guru Dana Holgorsen and an entirely new coaching staff for Jenkins and his teammates to deal with during their final seasons in Morgantown.
Injury kept WVU's starting left guard from competing during his 'first' senior season, but it also gave him time to learn from new offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh. Lessons that were learned and put to use during the past campaign.
"Every coach taught me things that made me a better player. As players, we can only control what we do on and off of the field. Coaching changes are made by other people. They don't ask players."
But, they do ask players to perform and this senior class had its ups and downs in 2012, including a five-game winning streak and No. 5 ranking to begin the season, a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season that dropped WVU out of the national rankings, and season-ending back-to-back wins over Iowa State (31-24) and Kansas (59-10) to earn the program yet another bowl berth.
"This senior class has gone through a lot," said Holgorsen. "Coaching changes and going to a new conference. But, they have never stopped working hard and I am very proud to be their head coach."
Joining Jenkins as seniors making their final appearances at Mountaineer Field were Tavon Austin, Josh Francis, Geno Smith, Shawne Alston, Cecil Level, Terence Garvin, Donovan Miles, Ryan Clarke, Nick Cadwell, Tyler Bitancurt, Corey Smith, Taige Redman, Jeff Braun, John Bassler, Joe Madsen, Ryan Nehlen, J.D. Woods, J.B. Lageman and Jorge Wright.
"I will never forget these guys," concluded Jenkins. "They are like brothers to me."