What a wild ride it's been for Mark Herzlich.
Once revered as one of the nation's best linebackers, Herzlich went from being at the top of his game to fighting for his life during his year-long battle with Ewing's sarcoma. All throughout, so many friends, family members and sports fans have had his back, praying for and cheering on the Boston College icon.
On Saturday, Herzlich bid farewell to the 39,263 fans at Alumni Stadium for the final time.
"The most emotional thing today is just getting the last win on the home field, " said Herzlich, who had eight tackles (six assisted, two unassisted) in Saturday's 17-13 win over Virginia. "That's what we were pushing for and we got, so that's great."
In addition, the Eagles became bowl eligible for the 12th consecutive season, which has always been one of Herzlich's top priorities.
"We always want to go to a bowl game, that's kind of our goal the whole time," Herzlich said. "Getting six (wins) is huge."
Herzlich is a graduate of Conestoga High School in Tredyffrin Township, Pennsylvania. He was named to the Associated Press Class AAAA All-State first-team honors as senior linebacker in 2005 after leading the team in tackles with 153 (48 solo). As a junior, Herzlich recorded 142 tackles and had four interceptions.
In addition, Herzlich returned a blocked field goal 86 yards for a touchdown in his highly-touted high school career.
Similar to his college career, Herzlich was awarded with many accolades during his time at Conestoga. He was an All-Central League first-teamer in 2004 and 2005, as well as a named All-Chester County, All-Suburban and All-Main Line three times. Herzlich was the first player in school history to win the league MVP award three times.
As a result, Herzlich led the Pioneers to consecutive Central League titles in the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Football wasn't his only sport in high school -- he also stared as an attack on Conestoga's boys lacrosse team.
Herzlich began he career at Boston College in 2006 and was an honorable mention in the College Football News Freshman All-American team. In 13 games (two starts), he had 42 tackles (32 solo) with five tackles for a loss and one sack.
The next season, Herzlich emerged as one of the league's better defenders. In 14 games, all of which he started, Herzlich racked up 97 tackles (55 solo) and had 12 tackles for a loss of 60 yards total. He also totaled 1.5 sacks, four pass break ups, two forced fumbles, a quarterback hurry and an interception.
In the Eagles' 2007 win over Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl, Herzlich led the team with 11 tackles and also had a fumble recovery.
Herzlich had been pretty good up to that point, but he emerged as a national figure during the 2008 season. He had a team-high 110 tackles, including 5.79 solo tackles per game (ninth in the nation). Herzlich also had six interceptions, which was tied for eighth most in the country and returned two interceptions for touchdowns (tied for most in the nation).
Not only that (which is quite a lot), but Herzlich had eight pass break ups, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 13 tackles for a loss (second in the nation).
Herzlich amassed seven tackles, including one for a loss, and two fumble recoveries in the ACC Championship game against Virginia Tech.
In the '08 campaign, Herzlich was named a First-Team All-American by Rivals.com and Scouts.com, an AP Third-Team All-American ans was also an honorable mention by Pro Football Talk and SI.com.
Even more impressive, but completely deserved, Herzlich was a finalist for the Butkus Award for the nation's top linebacker and a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy. And of course, Herzlich was the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Then, it all came crumbling down in 2009. Entering the season as the league's active leader in career tackles with 247, the entire Boston College community was stunned by Herzlich's diagnosis of Ewing's sarcoma.
But like other obstacles in his career, he overcame this one too.
After his miraculous recovery, Herzlich received many awards for his bravery, including the Disney Spirit Award, an honorary Lott Trophy and the ACC Commissioner's Cup. He also received The Joan S. and Thomas J. Giblin '50 Athletic Scholarship.
After a long layoff, Herzlich made his highly-anticipated debut in the Eagles' first game this season against FCS Weber State. Naturally, he was relieved to be doing what he loved again.
Herzlich hasn't had the best of season since making his return, recording only 54 tackles (41 assisted) in 2010. Entering Saturday's game, Herzlich has 2.5 tackles for a loss totaling 14 yards.
But that's alright, because for Herzlich, it's all about living life to the fullest.
"No regrets," he said. "I got my degree, I got my masters, played some football and had a great time."