The University of Georgia will be heavily represented at Ford Field this weekend when the Detroit Lions play host to the Cincinnati Bengals. During Matthew Stafford's final year at Georgia, he began favoring this gumby-like frosh out of Summerville, South Carolina named A.J. Green. The two connected 56 times for 963 yards receiving and eight touchdowns in 2008, while sophomore offensive lineman Clint Boling was protecting his quarterback.
When you include Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins and Lions wide receiver Kris Durham, there will be five players taking the field this Sunday that were teammates on Georgia's roster in 2008. Bengals defensive end Robert Geathers and tight end Orson Charles, other graduates from Georgia, weren't part of this roster. Geathers had long graduated into the NFL while Charles was an incoming freshman in 2009.
"It’s a great feeling to see everyone doing well around the league and then also having so many Georgia guys in the locker room," Atkins said via the Detroit Free Press. "When I first came in here, Robert Geathers took me under his wing and kind of showed me and taught me how to be a pro and what to expect in this league, and I've been doing the same thing with the other Georgia guys that come in. So it’s a good atmosphere to have."
There are other collegiate connections this weekend.
Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson and wide receiver Calvin Johnson were on the same Georgia Tech roster in 2005 and 2006. Lions offensive guard Rob Sims and Mike Nugent were three-year teammates at the Ohio State University from 2002-2004. Bengals running back Rex Burkhead is a former teammate with Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and safety DeJon Gomes at Nebraska in 2009. Bengals center Trevor Robinson and Tyler Eifert were teammates with Lions running back Theo Riddick from 2009-11. Safety George Iloka and Lions quarterback Kellen Moore played for Boise State (2008-11).
But it's the Georgia connection that will have the greatest impact this weekend. Green was a former teammate with current Lions wide receiver Kris Durham with Stafford as the passer. Green posted 56 receptions in 2008 while Durhan, who has been the leading receiver in the past three weeks with Calvin Johnson sporting a bum knee, only snagged 13 catches or 199 yards receiving that year.
A small reunion could pop up this weekend when Cincinnati arrived in town, writes Kyle Meinke with the MLive.com.
Cincinnati defensive tackle Geno Atkins, guard Clint Boling and tight end Orson Charles also attended Georgia, and there could be a reunion of sorts with Durham, Green and Stafford sometime Sunday. They planned to text each other when the Bengals arrive in town.
We can only hope that while everyone is having dinner together, Geno Atkins orders a bowl of rusty nails while wide-eyed staring at Stafford the whole time.