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November 18, 2011

Twelve seniors play final game Saturday

They are the senior dozen, twelve seniors who will suit up as Robert Morris football players for the final time against Duquesne. They come from a wide swath of backgrounds, play varying roles, and have had wide-ranging careers while Colonials.

ColonialsCorner takes a look back at the 12 seniors' careers as they prepare for their final game against their chief rival.

Brian Bevilacqua - A starter for his entire sophomore year, Bevilacqua began to be challenged more last year. First it was A.J. Dalton taking over when Bevilacqua was a junior, then it was Vince Mongelluzzo this year. He's battled some various ailments throughout his career, which hasn't helped him stay in the starting five. But none of that matters right now for him, and to be honest, the end of his career may matter little, too. The Bevilacqua family was hit hard by tragedy when Brian's sister, Nicole, was killed in a helicopter crash in Hawaii last week. On a team where the players consider themselves family, they all grieved for him last week - and that's why fellow senior Brad Rodgers wore Bevilacqua's number. Whether he's at Rooney Field or not won't matter; he'll be on all 12 seniors' minds.

Anthony Caperelli - Primarily a special teams guy for four years, Caperelli was originally in line to be the starter at outside linebacker this year. But a combination of factors led to Andrew Douglass getting most of the reps there. Caperelli will have a chance to go out on a high note though - he's on pace to have his career high in tackles this year.

Jamie Cobb - Physical and rangy, Cobb emerged as an excellent target for Jeff Sinclair last year. But bad knees and poor performance had him benched for a stretch of games this year during a time when he was expected to take on a larger role. Cobb earned his time back by throwing himself into special teams and he's been a nice redemption story. Because of that, he has a chance to top last year's. He's five receptions, 75 yards, and one score off of breaking last year's marks.

Anthony Coleman - People forget that the Colonials' starting receiver and return specialist was originally a defensive back. But he's transformed himself into one of the league's top returners and the team's second leading receiver behind Shadrae King. Coleman still hasn't broken through for a touchdown on a return, but he'll finish 2011 with career highs in receptions, yards, all-purpose yards, kick returns, and return yardage, and finish as one of the Colonials' most prolific offensive players.

Jamar Cromwell - When he transferred in from Kent State, many thought he'd make an immediate impact. But Myles Russ, Jeff Link, and Raphael Johnson had other ideas. Cromwell became an excellent special teams player, as well as a good short-yardage back. He lost his starting job at fullback, but not before he scored his first receiving touchdown of his career this year. Cromwell is one of two redshirt seniors on the team.

Shadrae King - King may go down as one of the best players ever in Robert Morris history. A dynamic receiver, King became a much better blocker and route-runner. The all-time leader in receptions at RMU, King's set several receiving records, including the most in a season with 49. He set that last week against Wagner and should pad it against Duquesne. The only question for King is what's next. A bit of a tweener, he'll at least be on the radar of NFL scouts. Odds are he at least gets a long look prior to the draft and ends up in a camp somewhere.

Jon Krepps - Krepps made his mark as a special teams player, battling through injuries to play 37 games in a Colonial uniform once he suits up against Duquesne. A middle linebacker when he came in, he moved to outside linebacker for two years and earned two starts out there last year. He has 50 tackles this year and was one of the Colonials' best run stoppers before a string of injuries.

John Melnick - A scout team player, Melnick hasn't appeared in a game for Robert Morris in his four years. Maybe he'll get a chance for a Rudy moment on Saturday.

Logan Miles - Miles made an immediate impression, part of a class of linemen that became early starters as freshmen. An intelligent, cerebral guy, Miles moved to center as a junior and has started every game there since, a run of what will be 22 games on Saturday.

Brad Rodgers - One of Miles' partners-in-crime as part of the freshman surge in 2008, Rodgers is considered to be the team's best pulling guard. Joe Walton has consistently praised Rodgers' ability to get out in space and lead block, something that no doubt helped Myles Russ for years. He and Coleman have the most starts among the Colonials, as the Duquesne game will be their 33rd start.

Chris Setticase - A role player for years, Setticase came in as part of the 2007 recruiting class. He's the last member of that group to graduate as a fifth-year senior. Until this year, though, Setticase didn't get much action, playing in just four games. But he became part of the Colonials' inside presence on defense, especially during a stretch when they went to the 4-3.

Alex Tarr - The final senior, Tarr is emblematic of how a typical Robert Morris career goes. After a year on the JV squad, Tarr was a special teams whiz as a sophomore and junior. But he played well enough to get reps on defense, and he registered his first interception as a junior. His experience, coupled with injuries, led to him getting the starting job for much of the early part of this season and two early interceptions. Injuries gave him the starting job back again, and that's how he'll finish his career.

ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at achiappazzi@yahoo.com.

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