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Homecoming For Five UGA Eagles

Michael Vick isn't the only Eagles' player with a homecoming of sorts on tap this Sunday when the team travel south to play the Atlanta Falcons.

For Will Witherspoon, Chris Clemons, Sean Jones, Reggie Brown and Max Jean-Gilles, the trip to the Georgia dome will be a return to the state where they played their college football. All five players went to the University of Georgia - the biggest collection of players from one college on the Eagles' roster.

"There's always something special there," said Witherspoon, the eldest of the group. "You have a good crowd that's always going to be there. You know, the Georgia folks remember. It's kind of one of those things that never goes away."

Witherspoon arrived in Athens two years ahead of a stacked recruiting class that included Brown, Jones and Clemons.

"There's definitely camaraderie between us," Witherspoon said. "What's funny is that I'm the oldest guy out of the crew, but I've had a relationship with these guys for so long, it's just kind of hilarious to be on the same team with all of these guys again."

Witherspoon actually let Clemons live with him when Clemons first showed up to campus during the summer of his freshman year.

"Honestly, I look more at (having five of us on the same team) as the homecoming," Clemons said. "We still all have that conversation now like when we were back in school, so it's still always fun to be around those guys and just to be able to be on a team when you have four other guys that you went to school with."

"We all stick together as a family," said Jones. "It's funny when you think about it because nine years ago we were all high-schoolers coming into the University of Georgia and you look down the road and now we're all playing on the same professional team.

"It's just good being able to see the guys that you kind of grew up with. You see guys who you saw when they were growing up as young kids, skinny guys, to now we're grown men playing in the NFL."

Jones is one of two among the group, along with Jean-Gilles, who achieved All-American status while at Georgia.

"Any time you get to go back to the dome it's a special feeling," said Jean-Gilles. "It feels like the SEC Championship all over again."

In fact, Jean-Gilles, Clemons, Jones and Brown were all contributors to the 2002 Georgia team that won the SEC and finished the season with a 13-1 record and victory in the Sugar Bowl - it's the most successful Georgia team of the past decade. Jean-Gilles and the rest of the Eagles will actually line up against one more member of that team on Sunday, Falcons' linebacker Tony Gilbert.

"Obviously the program is doing something right," Jean-Gilles joked.

But at nice as it will be for the group to play at home in front of family and friends, they won't let it distract from the task at hand - coming out with a victory in a tough NFC game with playoff implications.

"I look at it as a great thing to be able to go back home and be able to play in the state that I was raised in, but at the same time we still have to go out there and do what we have to do," Clemons said.
"I look at it like it's a week for us to go out there and get better and compete

"You still have to stay focused. That's the main thing is staying focused and being able to concentrate while you're able to go out and play."

-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 8:15 p.m., December 3

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