ATLANTA -- Last spring, when Georgia Tech's Kerry Watkins was thinking about entering the NFL draft, he had the full support of teammate Will Glover.
Well, sort of.
"As a friend, everything was in his best interest," Glover said. "But I didn't want to see him go. I wanted to see him end here. I started with him here, and I wanted to finish with him."
Glover got his wish and Watkins stayed. This season, the pair of wide receivers have combined for 103 catches and 1,279 yards, helping the Yellow Jackets (7-4) become bowl eligible.
They also helped the team stay focused after a two-game losing streak and other distractions earlier in the season.
"We stepped up and got the team going, and made plays when we had to," Watkins said. "We talked to the younger kids and got them going. We did a great job."
The duo met nearly five years ago when Glover made a recruiting visit to Georgia Tech. Watkins, then a redshirt freshman, was one of his hosts.
"That shows you how old he is," Glover quipped.
They were roommates for a time and have maintained a close relationship throughout their careers with the Yellow Jackets. Watkins is No. 3 on the school's all-time receiving list - just four catches away from second-place Harvey Middleton - with Glover right behind in fourth.
Along the way, they have led Georgia Tech to five straight bowls, a school record.
"Me and Kerry kind of grew together, even though he had a year on me," Glover said. "He's helped me an awful lot these past couple of years."
But Watkins almost wasn't there for Glover this year. After George O'Leary resigned last December, Watkins seriously contemplated making himself eligible for the NFL draft. He was told he would be a third- or fourth-round pick, so he decided to stay and play for new coach Chan Gailey.
The fact that Gailey was a longtime NFL coach, perceived as an offensive guru, made Watkins' decision that much easier.
"With coach Gailey having so much experience in the NFL, that definitely helped make it easier to stay," Watkins said. "I knew I could learn a lot from him if I came back."
Coming back has proved beneficial for Watkins, a second-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference pick. He already has a career-high 61 catches, good for third in the conference, and his 907 yards is also third.
Often lining up in the slot, he's been able to use his speed to get the better of matchups with safeties and linebackers.
Glover's numbers aren't quite as impressive since he plays mostly on the outside. He has 42 receptions, and as more of a possession receiver, he's averaging 8.9 yards a catch, six fewer than Watkins.
"Kerry has ended up with bigger numbers because he has been in certain spots to do those things, but Will has been a vital part of the success we've had," Gailey said. "They are similar players in some respects, but Kerry has a little more speed."
Both will have to be at their best Saturday against No. 5 Georgia (10-1). The Bulldogs won the Southeastern Conference East Division title and have a spot in the SEC championship game for the first time.
With Watkins and Glover, the Yellow Jackets have won two of the past three in the series.
"I don't think that you can ever put into words what they've meant to our team," Gailey said. "They've been good leaders, they've blocked and they've done all the little things that help you have a successful offense."
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