Josh Chandler-Semedo

WVU linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo takes down Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon Oct. 9, 2021 in Waco, Texas as the Bears defeated the Mountaineers 45-20.

MORGANTOWN — The way Josh Chandler-Semedo sees it, it’s time to say goodbye even though he feels like he’s still saying hello.

When WVU faces Texas at noon on Saturday, he take the Senior Day walk with his family for his final game at Mountaineer Field.

It has been a journey for him and the rest of the senior class that is not very big this year unlike any senior class before them.

In all there are 13 seniors but many transferred in, the likes of Alonzo Addae, VanDarius Cowan, Jarret Doege, Sean Ryan, Tyler Sumpter and Scottie Young. The others — Leddie Brown, Chandler-Semedo, Noah Drummond, John Hughes, Sean Mahone, Evan Staley and Dante Stills — came in one door but soon learned it would a fun house filled with mazes, traps and perils along the way.

College football used to be you came in for four, maybe five years, played the game and left, then either go on to life’s work or into the NFL.

No more, not for this class that found the coaching staff that recruited them leave, saw a COVID-19 pandemic change everything about the game for a year, take away fans, take away games, take away teammates. Enter the transfer portal, which made it far easier to leave for another school whether it be because you were unhappy, not playing or simply couldn’t find someone to tie your shoes for you.

With COVID-19, the eligibility rules were temporarily altered so seniors could get an extra year of eligibility to make up for the COVID season.

And finally, they brought in the right to make money off a player’s name, image and likeness, changing so much.

It was so much crammed into so little time.

“Football has gone by fast,” Chandler-Semedo, the Mountaineers middle linebacker and leading tackler, said.

He’s been one of those true student-athletes, got his bachelor of arts last year and is now enrolled in a master’s program, ready to say goodbye to a college life he enjoyed.

“I haven’t considered using my extra year,” he said. “If I did it would be like my 20th year here. It’s gone by fast. I remember like David Long’s Senior Day. It was one of the biggest games I’ve played in, facing Oklahoma.”

And already it’s his own Senior Day.

“There will definitely be some emotions. I remember seeing those guys. At that point I’m not sure I understood it, but being at this point now, you’ve poured a lot into the program. There were good times, memories with teammates and I feel it will all hit me at one point.

“But then, 20 minutes later you’re out there playing a game, so you can’t let it hit you too much.”

So, you take it as it comes and deal with the coaching changes, the injuries, the pandemic, the portals and NIL.

“It definitely has turned more into a business than you would think,” Chandler-Semedo said. “People say college is going to continually progress, but it has hit fast. Like the transfer portal, it’s like free agency now. Like NIL, you can make money like a pro. Coaches get hired, coaches get fired.

“I’ve been through six different position coaches in four years — six, really. It’s crazy. The one thing that’s consistent is the game and teammates. You have to lean more on that.

“I remember after the coaching staff changed thinking I came to West Virginia to play for my teammates. I didn’t necessarily come to play for coaches. I was playing for the fan base and my teammates. That keeps you more level and not focused on all the things happening outside.”

Chandler-Semedo sees it as progress, but understands that it is a different game now, this sport that is college football.

“I feel it’s good for the game,” he said. “You look at college football. It’s probably the most lucrative sport in America. Now it’s getting attention like the NFL and NBA does. It’s better. Now we have to pay for our scholarships out of our revenue, but I think it’s getting the right attention.

“It’s a necessary evil. Like losing a football game or things not going your way is like real miniscule. You go out and you got another chance to right your wrongs or prove people wrong. or prove yourself right.”

Things have changed so much, so rapidly, that even Neal Brown isn’t sure who is or isn’t a senior ... or, at least, at the end of his eligibility.

“It’s hard for me to keep up,” he said at his Tuesday press conference. “I don’t know for sure who is walking or who’s not walking yet. It’s up to them.”

It presents so many different scenarios for him and for the players.

“I’ve been thinking about it like this, there’s guys who have no eligibility left and guys who have potential eligibility left. I give them the option if they want to walk. It doesn’t have be a final decision. I don’t think there’s any reason to put stress on them right now,” Brown said.

“Last year’s senior class could have come back but a lot of them didn’t have NFL futures. They were kind of tired. It’s hard. It really is. Everybody sees all the perks and rewards and stuff, but it’s a lot of work. A lot of them had already graduated or had their master’s and they went about their life.

“You have discussions, whether we want you to come back or whether they want to come back. You take the emotions out of it and present the information.”

Brown gives honest answers, removing as much emotion as he can from the equation.

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