Ryan Wolfe has done just about everything that can be asked of a student-athlete in his five years at UNLV.
He has set nearly every receiving record that is kept and also thrived in the classroom, graduating in May on the dean’s list.
Yet all he could do in the final game of his UNLV football career was cheer on his teammates from his spot on the sideline as they drove down the field for the game-winning touchdown in a 28-24 victory Saturday night.
“It’s kind of a surreal experience. My back’s a little sore,” he said. “I’m not used to standing around (that) long.”
Wolfe stood and watched on crutches after having surgery Monday to repair a broken foot suffered in practice last week. He said not being on the field didn’t stop him from soaking in the excitement of the team’s victory on his senior night.
“I’m enjoying the moment still. If they let me, I’d probably camp out in the middle of the field and enjoy the moment a little bit longer,” he said.
Wolfe did carry on his pregame tradition of gathering the receiving corps during warm-ups and firing them up for the game.
“At the time he usually talks, he came over and talked to us,” said Phillip Payne, who broke out of a slump with five catches for 107 yards and the game-winning touchdown. “He was still our leader even though he wasn’t out on the field.”
The words, along with a suspect San Diego State defense, helped.
Omar Clayton completed 21 of 35 passes for 274 yards, even without the 12th-leading receiver in Division I-A history.
“The receivers, even with Ryan out, were able to get open and make catches,” Clayton said. “They were really reliable tonight.”
Jerriman Robinson was one of the receivers that helped pick up the slack.
The senior had four receptions for 77 yards, including a 35-yard catch along the right sideline on the game-winning drive.
“We definitely felt like there was an extra load that had to be carried,” Robinson said. “(Wolfe) was a big part of our offense, but I felt that (our entire offense) gave that little extra to fill in for him.”
Wolfe finished his career as the Mountain West Conference’s all-time receptions leader with 283, but finished 139 yards shy of setting the yardage mark, ending up with 3,495.