July 19, 2018 Atlanta: Auburn defensive lineman Dontavius Russell holds his SEC Media Days press conference at the College Football Hall of Fame on Thursday, July 19, 2018, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Auburn’s Dontavius Russell feels Georgia rivalry is more than football 

For Auburn defensive tackle Dontavius Russell, the Deep South’s oldest rivalry goes beyond football. 

It extends 121 miles past Athens and reaches his hometown in Carrollton, where he’s surrounded by Georgia fans. 

“That rivalry does mean a little more because I’m from Georgia,” he said Thursday. “Not necessarily because of the team. Just because I have to live around Georgia.”

Any extra heat Russell might catch from hometown fans can be traced to 2013. Nine months after committing to UGA, the four-star recruit had a change of heart. Twenty-seven days later, he pledged his allegiance to the Bulldogs’ oldest rival. 

While it makes sense that Russell’s commitment flip would intensify the animosity exchanged between the two fanbases, coach Gus Malzahn pointed out that the Bulldogs aren’t hurting for skilled players. 

While at the podium Thursday for the 2018 SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame, Malzahn referred to Georgia as an “extremely talented” team with “very good players.” He grouped the Bulldogs with Alabama when talking about programs leading the league in talent. 

As a fifth-year senior, Russell has one final shot to show Georgia what they missed out on and silence the chatter in Carrollton. The Tigers and Bulldogs will face-off for the 123rd time come Nov. 10. 

Sept. 1 vs. Austin Peay at Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs have never played the Governors (an FCS team). Sept. 8 at South Carolina. The Bulldogs and Gamecocks could decide the SEC East in the season’s second week, even if only because it could determine a tiebreaker. Sept. 15 vs. Middle Tennessee at Sanford Stadium. The schools have played once, with Georgia winning 29-10 in 2003. Sept. 22 at Missouri. The Bulldogs have a three-game win streak against the Tigers and have lost once to them. Sept. 29 vs. Te

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