I'm a sucker for senior day games. They're emotional for the players and the parents who provided the foundation for their kids to become FBS athletes. They're also emotional for those who know their backstories. The Nevada football team will celebrate its 17 seniors before Saturday afternoon's against UNLV, a contest with the Fremont Cannon on the line. Here's a look at the Wolf Pack's 17 seniors who will play their last game at Mackay Stadium on Saturday.
LB Kyle Adams: Adams is a junior-college transfer who joined Nevada's roster in Jay Norvell's first season. After being a reserve in his first two seasons with the Wolf Pack, Adams has taken advantage of some injuries to start five straight games this season. He's been productive, too. He has a career-high 34 tackles, including three for loss, and a forced fumble. While a number of players in this year's senior class has succumbed to season-ending injuries, Adams has taken the opposite path and is playing his best football at the end of his career.
LB Maliek Broady: A walk-on from Las Vegas, where he was raised by a single mother who gave birth to Broady when she was only 15, Maliek came to Nevada as a running back before moving to linebacker to get more playing time. He was put on scholarship prior to the 2017 season and has been a key special teams player who has started two games in his college career. He has a career-high 20 tackles this season and 40 stops in his career, including seven for loss. Four of those are sacks. He also has one forced fumble, that coming this season.
CB Daniel Brown: Nevada's top senior class draft prospect, Brown has started 23 games in his Wolf Pack career. He was advanced enough to play as a true freshman in 2016 and was named honorable mention All-MW last season. He's a good bet to earn a spot on the all-conference team this year despite missing two games with a concussion. In his career, Brown has 110 tackles, including 4.5 for loss, as well as five interceptions, four of them coming this season. Brown has 22 passes defended in his career and could have a pro future ahead.
WR Dom Christian: A two-sport standout from Chicago, Christian envisioned potentially playing both football and basketball at Nevada. That opportunity never materialized, but Christian has changed positions more than any Wolf Pack player in recent history, switching back and forth from offense to defense several times. He's wrapped up his Nevada career as a receiver and has a career-high 24 catches for 223 yards and his first career touchdown in 2019. He played a big role in Nevada's Arizona Bowl victory last season.
P Quinton Conaway: The outgoing and ever-optimistic punter with a barbecue sauce-colored minivan, Conaway had stints at Oregon, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Golden West College before finding a home at Nevada, where he has been the Wolf Pack's starting punter the last three seasons, including the last two on scholarship after walking on originally. He's been pretty good, too. Conaway's 42 yards per punt rank sixth in Nevada history and his 6,929 punt yards are the fourth-best total. He's become a fan favorite despite being a punter.
WR Kaleb Fossum: Fossum was a walk-on at Washington State who made the travel team by lying about the fact he was a holder, which he had never really done before. He spent two years in Pullman, Wash., serving as a return man and spot receiver before transferring to Nevada to go on scholarship and get a larger role in the offense. Injuries have marred Fossum's career, including a season-ending knee injury in 2017, a punctured lung and broken ribs in 2018 and most recently shoulder surgery in 2019, which ended his career. Fossum had 102 catches for 1,062 yards and one touchdown in his career.
DE Kaleb Meder: Meder was targeted by Nevada prior to the 2018 season because the Wolf Pack wanted to add some bulk to its defensive line. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Meder, a transfer from American River College in Sacramento, fit the bill. Meder started two games in his two years at Nevada and had 25 tackles, including 3.5 for loss. Two of those were sacks. Meder injured his elbow in a loss to Wyoming last month and is out for the remainder of the season. He is one of four seniors to suffer a season-ending injury this year.
RB Kelton Moore: A sixth-year senior because he grayshirted and then redshirted, Moore is the most tenured player on the roster. He also was voted a team captain by his teammates. A quiet guy, Moore's hard work and dedication made him an important part of Nevada's locker room. Moore has started 15 games the last three seasons, this year being interrupted by a severe ankle sprain. In his career, Moore has rushed for 1,406 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught and threw for a touchdown (he was a quarterback in high school).
CB E.J. Muhammad: This might not be the last hurrah for Muhammad, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last year and could apply for a sixth year of eligibility, which would probably be approved. But Muhammad is listed as a senior, and he's been a productive one. The Texas native has started 16 straight games when healthy and has 81 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in his career. Muhammad is one of 12 players in this 17-person senior class who came to Nevada under former coach Brian Polian.
OT Jake Nelson: A junior-college transfer from Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., Nelson has spent four seasons at Nevada, including the last three as a starter. Playing the highly important left tackle position, Nelson was a preseason All-MW first-team pick this year but broke his elbow in the team's loss to Hawaii, which ended his season. Nelson's 30 starts are the third most among active Nevada players and he was named the Wolf Pack's offensive player of the week after last year's win over Pac-12 team Oregon State.
WR Brendan O’Leary-Orange: The only international player in this senior class (O’Leary-Orange is from Canada), the lanky wide receiver is wrapping up his fifth season with the Wolf Pack. O'Leary-Orange's top campaign came in 2017 when he was a sophomore and caught a career-high 39 passes for 618 yards and four touchdowns. The Toronto native added four more touchdowns in 2018 and while he has only two catches this season, one was a key 50-yard trick play on a wide receiver pass from Elijah Cooks in the upset of San Diego State.
K Spencer Pettit: Originally a walk-on, Pettit eventually earned a scholarship and served as Nevada's kicker in 2016 and 2017. During those seasons, Pettit made 15-of-20 field goals with a long of 47. He's also made 61-of-63 extra points in his career. Pettit lost the starting kicking job to Ramiz Ahmed in 2018 and to Brandon Talton in 2019, but he has remained a first-class teammate and helped both of those players have success. Pettit also helped recruit Conaway, his long-time friend, to Nevada's program in 2017.
WR Ben Putman: Putman played for Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College for two seasons after high school before moving on to University of Sioux Falls, a Division II school in South Dakota. He left that program after a summer there and recruited himself to Nevada as a walk-on after sitting out the 2017 season. Putman made his big splash in last year's Arizona Bowl, catching four balls for 114 yards, including two key 44-yarders. He was awarded a scholarship on live TV after the game. This season, Putman has 15 catches for 155 yards.
LB Gabriel Sewell: No Wolf Pack senior has logged more snaps for the team than Sewell, who has started 47 games in his four seasons, including 21 straight. Sewell has been a model of consistency for Nevada's defense and was emotional this week when talking about his college career coming to an end after plating with his younger brother, Nephi, for two seasons with the Wolf Pack. In his career, Sewell has 276 tackles, which is 16 shy of top 10 in school history. He has 21.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
QB Cristian Solano: An ultimate teammate, Solano has started two games in his five-year career at Nevada (six years if you count his grayshirt season). Solano's crowning moment came in this year's win over UTEP in which he led the Wolf Pack to a victory. In that game, Solano completed 13-of-19 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 100 more yards on 10 carries. Over his career, Solano completed 53-of-92 passes for 504 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions. He's been a key mentor for Nevada freshman Carson Strong.
DT Hausia Sekona: Nicknamed "House," Sekona, a team captain, has sat in the middle of Nevada's defensive line the last few seasons. Sekona has 36 career starts, second among the team's active players behind only Sewell. Undersized at 6 feet and 280 pounds, Sekona has held his own and helped Nevada go from the nation's worst run defense his freshman season to an above-average group each of the last two years. Sekona has 113 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks (both this season), two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in his career.
LB Lucas Weber: The lone local on the list, Weber was a walk-on from McQueen who joined Nevada's roster as a running back in 2014 before moving to linebacker after a couple of seasons, eventually earning a scholarship. A torn ACL cost him his sophomore campaign, which allowed him to petition for a sixth year of eligibility, which was approved. Injury struck again this season in the form of a broken ankle. Weber might be able to return for a bowl game. A team captain, Weber has 94 tackles, including 13.5 for loss, and 6.5 sacks in his career.