By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Former Statesboro Blue Devils now playing as UGA Bulldogs
UGA Family  Fan Day 002
Former Statesboro football players Deangelo Tyson, John Knox and Justin Houston pose together at the Georgia Family and Fun Day. The three Blue Devils will face their hometown Saturday when Georgia Southern travels to UGA. - photo by TODD GILCHRIST/Special to the Herald
    Football fans will see some familiar faces Saturday, whether they'll be tuned into Georgia Southern's contest at Georgia or inside Sanford Stadium.
    John Knox, Justin Houston and Deangelo Tyson will all be on the Georgia sideline, looking across the field at the team from their hometown they grew up watching and rooting for.
    "I tell my teammates up here all the time — this is a homecoming game for me," said Knox, a redshirt freshman who is second on the depth chart at free safety. "I always used to go to Georgia Southern games and I never really thought I'd be playing against Georgia Southern. It's a dream come true to me — one to be at this school and two to play against a team from my hometown."
    Houston, who also redshirted his first year, is behind Jeremy Lomax for a starting spot at defensive end.
    "As of right now things are going pretty good," he said. "I think I've improved a lot since the spring."
    Houston is taking a more diplomatic approach when it comes to Saturday's game.
    "I think it'll be a very exciting moment for me," he said. "But I'm going to look at it like I look at any other opponent."
    Both Knox and Houston said trying to accommodate family and friends who want to come to the game has been wild.
    "It's crazy," said Houston. "I don't even have enough tickets to get all my family up here. People are calling me left and right to try and get tickets."
    Said Knox: "There's a lot of ticket requests — I can't even count right now. My family, my high school coaches, middle school coaches, my teachers, counselors — they're all calling me, wishing me good luck."
    Knox and Houston graduated from Statesboro in 2007, while Tyson left the 'Boro just this spring. His name isn't listed on the current depth chart and he'll likely be redshirted this season.
    "I've been working hard to get better," he said. "I've been struggling, also. I just have to learn, come out to practice and get better. If I keep working I might have a shot at playing — but if I slack off here I'll be redshirted."
    Both Knox and Houston were in the same position last season. Knox said the decision helped him in the end.
    "The redshirt year helped me out a lot," he said. "Not only in the film room or with the playbook, but also in the weightroom and all of that."
    Tyson said he hasn't paid much attention to all the hype surrounding Georgia in the offseason. Ticket requests for Saturday haven't been an issue either.
    "I got one ticket I wanted to give — and that person got that ticket," he said. "No one else even needed to ask."
    Georgia entered the preseason ranked No. 1 by both the USA Today and the Associated Press. A win Saturday would be the first step toward UGA's first national title in over 25 years.
    "Every time you're No. 1 there's always pressure," said Knox. "But we can't buy into that. We just have to study the teams we face. You can't win two until you win one. If we keep winning — and I hope we do — we'll keep that ranking. But right now we're just focused on the game."
Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter