Peach State Impact

For the Gators, Ben Troupe, Channing Crowder, Kelvin Kight, Kenny Parker and Travis Harris all have something in common... they are Gators from the state of Georgia and they all play a huge role for Ron Zook and Florida.

Hanging in the gymnasium where Arlethea Kight teaches kindergarten, a large hand-crafted banner drapes across the wall for only one reason.

And you can forget about promoting school spirit. This is a reminder.

"Beat the Gators," the sign reads, made specifically for the mother of Florida's leading wide receiver.

Just in case Kelvin Kight's mom forgets where she lives, plenty of co-workers are more than willing to refresh her. She's in Bulldog country.

But maybe Kight, who grew up in Lithonia, Ga., should have her mother send out a message of her own. After all, Florida will seek its 13th win in 14 years against the Bulldogs when one of the Southeastern Conference's most intense rivalries kicks off today at 3:30 p.m.

"Once the game is over, we'll see who's still talking," said Kight, joking about the hometown harassment.

Kight, along with 11 other Georgia natives on the Gators' roster, will be looked upon as critical role players in the showdown. Their impact could leave the state that handed over starters Ben Troupe, Channing Crowder and Kenny Parker wondering why it ever let them go in the first place.

And add one more starter from the Peach State to the list. Because of defensive end Bobby McCray's one-game suspension, Travis Harris, a native of Decatur, Ga., will start in his place.

"I don't know what it is, but I feel like the Georgia guys have been big playmakers this year," Kight said. "Give us the ball, and we'll make the play. For whatever reason, we play well in this one. And that's going to need to continue."

They certainly do. Last year, Kight had his breakout game with 115 yards and nine catches in the 20-13 win. And Troupe caught the game-winning touchdown while picking up 47 yards on four catches.

Considering the Gators need this win to remain alive in the SEC East title hunt, Troupe said he understands the game's importance. But he's not going to let his Georgia roots interfere with his emotions.

"It's easy to lose focus," Troupe said. "You don't want to make this game the biggest of your whole career because you don't want to get caught up in the hype. If it works out that way, that's great. It must just be your time to shine."

Take a look at what the Georgia natives on Florida's roster have done so far this season, and it's going to be tough for them not to standout. Crowder, for instance, has already become of the team's biggest impact players in his true freshman season.

A native of Atlanta, Ga., the linebacker leads his unit in tackles with 48, ranking third on the team. So while Coach Ron Zook decided to muzzle the team's most colorful quote from the media, you can be certain Crowder is waiting for his chance to talk on the field.

And Harris has his incentives as well. As a starter for four games before being benched for McCray, the junior will get his chance to prove he remains a potential force.

So whatever the reason, Saturday's game won't just be important for silencing hometown enemies. The Georgia natives know there's more to it than that.

Considering the implications, the incentive speaks for itself.

"Just because I'm from Georgia, I don't treat it any different than any other game," Kight said. "We have more to worry about. We're going to do every thing we can do to come out victorious one more time."


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