For Tom Savage, there might be a shot at the NFL after Thursday's game. For him, there's something more personal about playing for Pitt one more time, even though this has been his only year.
"You always want to play, and you always want to be with your guys," Savage said. "We just have to finish off with a win, and let these older guys go out with a win."
Savage started all 12 games this season, throwing for 2,834 yards, 21 touchdowns and just 9 interceptions. Going along with Tino Sunseri's regular season numbers of last year--3,233 yards, 21 touchdowns, 3 interceptions--the offensive staff of Paul Chryst, Joe Rudolph and Brooks Bollinger has made these Pitt quarterbacks efficient, at least.
It wasn't all smooth sailing for Savage prior to getting to Pitt. After losing his starting job at Rutgers in 2010, he transferred to Arizona. Arizona went throug a coaching change, a change of offensive philosophies. Savage joined Pitt as a walk-on. It carried the same rules as a transfer--which included sitting out another year.
It was well worth the wait, according to Savage. In addition to just getting on the field and putting up a numbers, he resurrected his career. All this after a point in his life where he wondered if it was actually worth playing football.
"I wouldn't be where I'm at without the seniors on this team and the coaches," Savage said. "They've really helped me. They picked me up a little bit because I've been transferring a bunch. It's not easy. They made it a lot easier for me. I wouldn't want to do it at any other place."
Is he already looking ahead to some NFL plans, or at least a shot at the combine in February?
"Not really," Savage said. "Just worrying about this game, whatever happens after that is a bonus. It will be sad. It's going to be tough--just not being without the guys anymore, it will be tough. Let's just get the win, and hopefully we'll celebrate after."
Hendricks started in all 12 games this season, leading the team with 75 tackles. Entering the final game of his Pitt career, Hendricks owns 36 career starts, and is Pitt's active leader with eight interceptions.
Hendricks' Pitt career has lasted four years, Savage with one. Still, he takes a similar approach, heading into his final game.
"I have a lot of love for these guys," Hendricks said. "I watched a lot of them grow up. This game, it's going to be hard."
Hendricks made five starts as a redshirt freshman, then saw his sophomore year end prematurely due to a shoulder injury. How does he sum up his Pitt career?
"I feel like I made some strides," Hendricks added. "When I was a young guy, I didn't know much about defense. I just knew how to hit people. You learn a lot from a lot of different coaches. I'm lucky to have different d-back coaches. I took a little bit from each one of them. I tried to put it all in one, and use everything they taught me."
Another of his favorite memories of playing at Pitt? Simply playing with Aaron Donald. He pointed out the impressive array of awards that Donald has racked up. Even as a defensive back, Hendricks appreciates what Donald has accomplished as a defensive tackle.
"I'm happy for him, because he deserves all of it," Hendricks said. "I've seen how hard he works, how much time he played, he does what he loves. All the hard work."