November 15, 2006

Many Devils set for Georgia homecoming

Any time Duke matches up with Georgia Tech on the gridiron, talk throughout the week tends to focus on the connections between the Blue Devil coaching staff and the Georgia Tech program.

After all head coach Ted Roof and assistant head coach Glenn Spencer each played and coached for the Yellow Jackets, but the connections between Duke football and the Peach State run much deeper than just two coaches.

Georgia has been a key recruiting territory for the Blue Devils under the leadership of Roof, and the roster is stacked with 21 Georgians, including 12 who are on the two deep entering the game against the Yellow Jackets.

"We've got a really big contingent from Georgia on our team," Spencer said Wednesday. "Georgia is represented higher than any other state as far as the amount of players on our team so we have a lot of guys on our two deep who are traveling back home and looking forward to this game in Atlanta."

Opportunities for college players to return and play in their home state don't come around very often, so there's no doubt the Duke players returning home this weekend will be fired up to play.

But is it possible for players to reach a point where they might be so excited about the opportunity before them that it's a detriment to their performance?

Not according to Spencer, who oversees Duke's defensive backs.

"I'm speaking for myself and my position, and I don't want them to calm down a bit," Spencer said of the four Georgians on the two deep in Duke's secondary. "Any little bit of motivation they can get, I want them to be ready. I don't fear that they are going to be too juiced up, it's just added motivation. A lot of times those things will last you about the first couple of plays. Then after that, it's how well you have practiced and how well you have prepared."

Starting cornerback Deonto McCormick, backup cornerback Rodney Ezzard, and safeties Chris Davis and Catron Gainey make the up the secondary quartet who will be returning home this week.

For Spencer, also a Georgia native, not only is neat for him to take several Georgians into this week's battle with the Yellow Jackets, but he also gets to coach against several players on the other sideline that he formed relationships with.

And while the outcome of the game certainly won't be determined by players making a homecoming, it most definitely comes up in chats this week as the Blue Devils prepare to try and spring an upset against the Coastal Division champions.

"[It comes up] just in general conversation," Spencer said. "I'll ask them who's coming to the game, is your aunt or your mom or the family you get to know while you're recruiting the kid, are they going to make it? They might show up at the hotel on Friday night. The experience is just good for these kids to get back in that area. I recruited a few of them and I recruited some guys on that Georgia Tech team that we're going back to play against so there will be some good healthy emotions all the way across the board."

"It's a fun trip because a lot of people from back home can come see them play that otherwise would not come see them play, so that's a neat thing for these kids."

A couple of the Yellow Jackets Spencer recruited include safety Djay Jones and defensive end Adamm Oliver, who will be two key cogs for Georgia Tech this weekend.

The two have combined for 84 tackles.

To pull an upset, Duke will need contributions from all over the roster regardless of where each player is from, but a win over the Yellow Jackets would undoubtedly be extra sweet to the 21 Blue Devils making a homecoming this Saturday.



 

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