MOSCOW, Idaho – When Robb Akey referred to Princeton McCarty and Derek Wieting as the “gray-haired old men” of the Idaho football program, the coach meant the comment as a lighthearted poke at two veteran players.
But he also said it for a reason.
Wieting has been with the Vandals for six seasons. McCarty came to Moscow just a semester later, in the spring of 2007.
Both will be among 20 seniors who say goodbye to the Kibbie Dome Saturday afternoon when Idaho (2-8, 1-4 WAC) hosts Utah State (4-5, 2-2) at 2 p.m. in its home finale.
McCarty and Wieting’s time at UI predates Akey or anyone on his coaching staff. McCarty was recruited by Nick Holt, but by the time the undersized running back showed up in Moscow – after delaying enrollment as a grayshirt – Holt had left and Dennis Erickson’s return had ended after one year.
Wieting, a 24-year-old tight end from Meridian, Idaho, was also a grayshirt in 2006. He and McCarty are the only players on the roster not brought in by Akey over the last five years.
“It’s been a long ride,” said McCarty, the Vandals’ leading rusher this season with 621 yards. “It’s kind of crazy that we’re getting to my last game. It’s been a lot of ups and downs, highs and lows.”
McCarty played in every game of the Vandals’ bowl-winning season in 2009, yet he’s also been apart of trying years at Idaho – none more so than this one. With two games left, UI can do no better than collect four victories, after winning 14 combined the last two years.
“Your senior year, you want that to be your peak year as far as going out and having a great year team-wise,” he said. “It doesn’t always work out like that.”
Also departing the program are fifth-year senior offensive tackles Matt Cleveland and Tyrone Novikoff, safety Quin Ashley, defensive tackle Michael Cosgrove and three other players who redshirted in 2007.
Quarterback Brian Reader will also end his home career against the Aggies after a difficult final campaign with the Vandals. He hasn’t started since Oct.15 at New Mexico State, and Akey hasn’t announced if Reader or sophomore Taylor Davis will get the start today.
“This senior group, it’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears here,” Akey said. “It is a big deal. For a senior playing your last game at home, it’s a real big deal. So there will be a lot of emotion packed into that.”