COLUMBIA, S.C. – Bryson Allen-Williams opened with the company line when asked about playing Georgia.
“It’s just another game for me,” he said.
The junior linebacker is from Cedar Grove High School in Ellenwood, Ga., so it wasn’t long before he parted ways with the clichés and admitted that facing the Dawgs carries a little more meaning.
“I don’t try to make it too personal, because that’s when emotions get involved and that’s when you play outside your game,” Allen-Williams said. “But playing against Georgia, playing against a lot of guys I know, it does mean a lot.
“I’m just ready to go out there and have a good performance against these guys.”
Including walk-ons, South Carolina’s roster has 25 players from the state of Georgia, which is the second-highest total from one state.
“At the end of the day … it’s an important game because it’s the SEC East,” said coach Will Muschamp. “It’s an important game, because in more recent years it’s been a great rivalry game since 1992, when South Carolina joined the Southeastern Conference.
“But anytime you play guys you know and you play guys you grew up with, it certainly brings a little bit more to the table.”
D.J. Smith grew up in Marietta, Ga. where he was teammates with Georgia center Brandon Kublanow at Walton High School. They’ve been friends since middle school and haven’t lost touch since going to college.
“I know I’ll be going against him some if he comes out and gets to the second-level of blocking,” Smith said, “So I think it’s going to be a big game for me.”
Allen-Williams is friends with Georgia outside linebacker Davin Bellamy, who went to Chamblee (Ga.) High School, but he’s hardly the only one.
“They have a lot of guys on their team that I know and that I’m cool with,” Allen-Williams said.
On Tuesday, before chatter about Hurricane Matthew was running at full-force, Smith told reporters that he was expecting to have a large cheering section in Williams-Brice Stadium this weekend.
“I know all of my fan-base from back home is going to be coming up here,” Smith said. “It’s definitely a big game for me, I feel like.”