Nick Reveiz nominated for award honoring outstanding walk-on
Tennessee Stat Book
They're the survivors.
They're the ones who bought into a new regime when the old one was pulled out from under them.
And when that regime was pulled out from under them too, they're the ones who bought into yet another regime.
It wasn't what any of Tennessee's seniors signed up for, but they stuck it out. And now it's about over.
"Man,'' defensive end Gerald Williams said, "time flies.''
They have known the highs - clinching an SEC East title in a four-overtime marathon at Kentucky and going to the Georgia Dome to play for a championship.
They have known the lows - getting embarrassed by Florida, 59-20, or stunned by Wyoming.
They've seen their senior year pushed the brink of a cliff, 2-6 at the end of October.
And they've brought it back from the brink with a three-game winning streak to create a meaningful scenario for their final run through the T.
"They've been through something like no other senior class in Tennessee history has been through,'' said first-year UT coach Derek Dooley.
The story of UT's 2010 season has been about the new guys. New coaches. All the freshmen forced to contribute.
But let's not forget the old guys. Imagine how much worse things might have gotten had the seniors refused to get on board with a third coach in three years.
"That's not easy,'' Dooley said. "I haven't had one problem with the senior class wanting to do it how we want to do it and I'm very grateful for that.
"It could have easily been different.''
Imagine how much worse things would be now if the seniors had spit the bit in a winless October. They didn't and they're playing for a bowl bid Saturday against Kentucky.
Eight, maybe nine, seniors will start Saturday, plus kickers Daniel Lincoln and Chad Cunningham. More than that have left the program in the turmoil of the past two years.
The ones who stayed, they were asked how they want to be remembered.
"As a group that never quit,'' said receiver Gerald Jones.
"A group that had the ambition and the motivation and determination to excel, to not go out on the bottom. To do anything we could to turn this season around and turn it into a positive.''
Jones, ever eloquent, envisioned a scene a couple of years down the road when the seniors return for a homecoming game:
"When we think about our senior season, do we hang our heads about it? Do we say we wish we could have done this differently?
"Or do we say we're proud of ourselves for the way we bounced back? Because it's hard to come back and win out and go to a bowl after losing four or five straight games.''
That bowl game isn't a done deal yet. Far from it.
Beating Kentucky a 26th consecutive time will be difficult, perhaps more so than any of the previous 25. These seniors won't have time for nostalgia in their final hours at Neyland Stadium. They have one more fight on their hands.
"I feel like a lot of our guys have really stepped up and answered the bell,'' said linebacker Nick Reveiz, a worthy poster boy for his class's resiliency.
"This game is going to be a big part of determining where this senior class ends up.''
That's true. But for these guys, in this turbulent era of Tennessee football, just ending up being a senior has already proved a point.