NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Seventeen Bulldogs ended their careers as Bulldogs on Friday night and they’ll go out on top as they handed Wake Forest a 23–17 defeat in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
This group of Bulldogs have gone through the trials and tribulations that come with a four-win season, a coaching change and a rebuilding process.
After all the heartache and hard work, the reward is sweater for the players and those who made the journey with them.
“Man, I was just thinking about all the people that have been with me and some of the family members that I lost and some of the struggles I had personally,” said departing senior guard Quentin Saulsberry. “When you come out on top like that, emotions just start rolling over.”
As Saulsberry stated, emotions were high for everyone, including State’s starting quarterback Chris Relf.
“I was just too excited,” said Relf with a laugh. “I just had to tell myself to calm down that everything was going to be fine.”
Relf ended his career with 14 wins as a starter, but he has his goals set a little higher.
“I feel like I’m not successful until I make it to that next point,” he said. “I want to make it to the NFL, but I know that I’ve got some work that I’ve got to do.”
While Relf aspires to take things to the next level, a fellow senior had an NFL like performance.
Vick Ballard rushed for 180 yards on 14 carries earning Most Valuable Player honors.
While he is pleased with his effort, Ballard is even more excited about what this win does for the state of Mississippi and for the future of the MSU program.
“It is a great thing," Ballard said. "We want to get all of the guys that we can from Mississippi. There are a lot of great players in Mississippi.
"Winning big games consistently, winning bowl games and the Egg Bowl will get those guys convinced that this is the place to be in Mississippi. It is great for the state, great for our university, our fan base and our coaches. It is real important and something we strive to do each year.”
For Relf, Saulsberry, Ballard, Damien Anderson, Wade Bonner, Robert Elliott, Marcus Green, Jamie Jones, Addison Lawrence, Sean Ferguson, Charles Mitchell, Derek DePasquale, Marvin Bure, Jonathan Phillips, Brandon Wilson, Wade Bonner, Brandon Maye and James Carmon, gone are the days of summer workouts and two-a-days.
Saulsberry admits he won’t miss a Matt Balis workout.
“No, not really,” said Saulsberry of wanting to go through another Balis workout session. “That’s one of the hardest working strength coaches I’ve ever seen or heard of in my life. But I might not mind coming back and get ing another workout with him.”
Congratulations to the Bulldogs seniors as they leave Mississippi State as champions.