By Michael Haag | Sports Editor
There’s lots to look forward to this weekend, as No. 4 Texas Christian University will come to McLane Stadium for a contest against Baylor football on Saturday. FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff crew will host its pregame show from the South Plaza starting at 9 a.m., so plenty will be going on and added motivation for this one is needless.
Game time is set for 11 a.m. on Saturday versus the Horned Frogs (10-0, 7-0 Big 12). The game can be watched on FOX.
For some of the athletes on the field, it marks the last time they’ll step foot on the turf at the place they’ve called home for years. In this era of college football, the pandemic gave players the option to gain extra eligibility, so there are even some sixth and seventh-year seniors on this Bears (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) team.
One of these athletes is sixth-year senior linebacker Bryson Jackson, who redshirted his freshman season in 2017. Jackson has spent every second of his collegiate career in the green and gold and said there will be “a lot of emotion” for him on senior day this weekend.
“It’s going to be a lot of memories here that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life, just the teammates I’ve had throughout the times,” Jackson said. “And this year has been amazing being able to spend it with the guys. We’ve worked hard this week to prepare for the game. It’s going to mean everything.”
After redshirting his freshman season, Jackson did not appear in any games the following year. But across three seasons, the Mansfield native has logged 43 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble along with a recovery, both from this season. Jackson has played in 45 games to this point in his extensive career.
Another Bear with plenty of years under his belt is fifth-year senior offensive lineman Connor Galvin. Ever since his arrival on campus, Galvin has locked down the left tackle position. He appeared in all 13 games of his freshman year, starting the last six of them from that spot.
In 2021, Galvin won the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year award after a dominant season. He started all 14 games and helped the team finish 12-2.
It’s been a long journey for the lineman out of Katy, who said he’s “played a lot of football with these guys” around him. Galvin said he’s seen it all in his time at Baylor.
“We’ve gone through the previous staff together, we’ve gone through the transition with Coach Aranda,” Galvin said. “Up until now, we’ve been through a lot of stuff together, a lot of workouts, a lot of bad days, good days and all that stuff.”
But most importantly, Galvin said he’s going to miss playing next to his lifelong buddies.
“It’s going to suck to not be with them after this year, but all of us have made friends for life,” Galvin said. “So, really can’t complain about that.”
Galvin, Jackson and most of the other seniors are in the midst of their third year under Aranda. The 26-year coaching veteran said he loves his group and that he’s proud of what they’ve been through.
“I just have a lot of respect for our seniors,” Aranda said. “They’ve seen a lot, they’ve been through a fair amount, and for this to be the last one at home, it’s crazy how fast time goes.”
Jackson said he’s loved playing for Baylor’s coaching staff over his six-year career and that those folks alone instill enough motivation to play hard for.
“For us, I just think about our coaches’ families and how much investment we went into this year with the players and the offseason,” Jackson said. ”So, all that up to this moment, what better opportunity to play for these guys because those are the most important things coming from this game is that we go out there and bring a performance that’s top-tier.”
When asked which senior would be most likely to cry, Jackson said it might be him, but that he’ll do a good job of hiding it. He said “we’ve got some tough guys, they probably won’t cry,” but the water works might get to him before that final kickoff from McLane Stadium.
“For me, it’s definitely an emotional experience,” Jackson said.