9/23/17 - Athens, GA - Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (7)First half action during a NCAA college football game in Athens, GA. UGA Bulldogs vs Mississippi State Bulldogs football. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald dubs Sanford ‘loudest college football stadium’ 

When Nick Fitzgerald stepped on the field at Sanford Stadium in September, he was fulfilling a childhood dream of playing for the Bulldogs.

Just not the Bulldogs he originally envisioned. Dressed in maroon and white, the Georgia native looked like a different breed from the team he supported growing up. 

Now the starting quarterback at Mississippi State, Fitzgerald largely was overlooked before Dan Mullen took a chance on the “two-star”(per Fitzgerald) recruit out of Richmond Hill High School. 

Georgia never came calling, but Fitzgerald’s connections to Athens weren’t severed by his move to Starkville. His grandparents live there, his father graduated from UGA and his uncle, Charles Pledger, played for the Bulldogs in the early ’90s. Those family ties meant Fitzgerald visited Sanford long before the 2017 season, but watching from the stands isn’t quite the same feeling as playing between the hedges. 

“The first time going in there to play was a completely different experience,” Fitzgerald said. “It was probably the loudest college football stadium I’ve ever played in.”

Considering Mississippi State plays every home game to the deafening soundtrack of ringing cowbells, there’s no telling what decibel level Georgia fans reached. The noise certainly didn’t help, as MSU struggled to take down the top Dogs in the 31-3 loss. 

But Fitzgerald doesn’t harbor any ill will and came away with a happy ending —the “cool experience” of playing in front of family members on the field he admired as a kid. 

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