ATHENS, Ga. - Just because Columbus, Ga., native Antarrious Williams crossed over the state line to play for one of Georgia's biggest rivals doesn't mean he's lost his sense of humor.
"Go Dogs! Woof! Woof! Woof!" Williams began a phone conversation this week.
The Auburn senior linebacker will be making a homecoming Saturday when the 15th-ranked Tigers face the ninth-ranked Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium. Williams is one of 18 scholarship players from Georgia on the Auburn roster.
Call it a friendly rivalry. Not only are the schools a mere 178 miles apart, but former Georgia player Pat Dye, of Blythe, coached at Auburn and former Auburn player Vince Dooley coached at Georgia.
"We know a lot of players on the Auburn team, and they know a lot of us," Georgia safety Greg Blue said.
When Auburn running back and Dacula, Ga., native Kenny Irons is back home, he sometimes drives to Athens to hang out with high school teammate and Georgia fullback Des Williams ("He's like a little brother to me," Irons said), as well as Bulldogs running back Danny Ware at East Campus Village.
Offensive tackle and Albany, Ga., native Troy Reddick has made road trips to the past two Georgia spring games. Offensive tackle Marcus McNeill and offensive guard Jonathan Palmer, both from Decatur, Ga., joined Reddick at this year's G-Day game.
"We didn't even come to watch the game," Reddick said. "We were scouting their girls. They like football players a little bit more over there."
Williams committed to Georgia in August 2000 before switching to Auburn after Jim Donnan was fired. The deciding factor, he said, was that Auburn is closer to Columbus than Atlanta.
Reddick said he was recruited by the Bulldogs but lost interest when he visited Georgia on "Junior Day" and saw more showtime than substance.
"It was like flashing lights and trying to show all the glamour to be a UGA football player," Reddick said. "I asked them where is the offensive line coach? They were like, 'He's not here.' I just left right there. I 'X'-ed Georgia off my list right then."
A scholarship offer never came from Georgia, Reddick said.