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'It's A Place That's Close To My Heart'

When wide receiver Nelson Agholor steps on the field at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, he will be returning as a two-time Super Bowl Champion.

Not only does he have a ring from last year’s triumph in Minneapolis, but he will be returning to the same field where he won his “little league Super Bowl” when he was preteen in his hometown of Tampa, Florida.

Despite the title of that first game he ever played at the Buccaneers’ home stadium, Agholor does consider Sunday's regular-season matchup to be more important. And as he prepares for his homecoming, he is most looking forward to taking care of business with his team.

“It’s going to be a great feeling,” Agholor said. “It’s a place that’s close to my heart because it’s the home stadium of where I’m from but I’m just excited to go out there Week 2, me and my guys, go out there and get the W.”

Agholor was born in Nigeria and moved to Tampa when he was 5 years old. He said it was a culture shock when he first arrived, but the community took him and his family in.

“Tampa is a grind,” Agholor said. “That’s my community. A lot of great people there that poured into me, my high school football coach (Dominick Ciao), he definitely helped me become the man I am today and some of the things he taught me are the characteristics I use to make sure I’m on my feet all day as a pro.”

Agholor, who said he’s “super excited” to see his family at the game, plans to meet up with his former coach and others during the weekend. He played his high school ball at Berkeley Prep, where his sister now attends with the daughter of former Buccaneers legend Ronde Barber, a player Agholor admired while growing up and attending games.

Barber will be the analyst on FOX for the game and Agholor, who has met Barber several times before, plans to say hello.

“Ronde Barber was one of my favorite Bucs,” Agholor said. “Keenan McCardell, Reidel Anthony, some receivers that I thought were really good. Obviously, Ronde though, all time, he’s just a class act and a great guy.”

Agholor will be returning home in this game as the Eagles’ go-to receiver. Last week against the Falcons, Agholor led all receivers with eight receptions and tied tight end Zach Ertz with a team-high 10 targets. (He also leads the team in passer rating after his trick-play completion to quarterback Nick Foles of 15 yards.)

But despite his prominence in an important road test, Agholor plans to give some time to his family, friends, and coaches who shaped his character as he grew up in Tampa.

“It’s very important because I have some really close friends from my little league time and then even at the high school level, I even have closer friends,” Agholor said. “And even my high school coach, who is like a father to me, someone I’m very close with and someone really close to my heart, a guy that I can call almost every day. The game of football brought so many people in my life.”

Agholor surprised youth football players in South Philadelphia on Tuesday, offering words of advice and encouragement while helping with their drills. He also runs football camps at his alma mater in Tampa during the offseason.

Agholor said he wants to show kids who are playing on the same field where he played not too long ago that their dreams are achievable. Sunday will present the opportunity for youth football players in both his home city and current one to watch him on television living out the NFL dream.

“I think for the kids that are there, I just want them to see me have fun, most importantly,” Agholor said. “A lot of kids in Tampa, they love the game of football. So, I hope they get to tune in and if it’s a kid who’s been to my camp, I hope he gets to see me have fun with my guys.”

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