Jon Cooper | The Good Word
The things that stick with student-athletes over the course of a college career are interesting.
The things that have stuck with Shamire Devine over the course of his college are really interesting.
"Wednesday before [every] UGA game, I get like 17 text messages from all over the city," said Atlanta native. "Some people are like, `I wish you the best, I hope you do good, but I want UGA to win.' I [am always] like, `Not this time.'"
Those text messages and the fact that this Saturday's 112th renewal of Georgia Tech-Georgia, aka "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate," is also his final collegiate home game really has him going. The game will be on center stage, with a noon kickoff and a national TV audience on ABC.
"I just love it. I love the fact that it's old-fashioned hate," he said. "It's going to be a hard, hard fight. A boxing match [where] the bell's rung and the referee is pulling us off each other."
While light is a word not often associated with the 6-7, 380-pound senior right guard, it perfectly describes the impact that his quick wit, superb timing and well-honed deadpan delivery can have on a team's mood. That's a big deal.
It's even bigger this week leading up to Georgia Tech-Georgia, where there's so much more at stake than just the Governor's Cup and bragging rights. Georgia Tech needs a win to become bowl eligible and conclude a perfect home slate, while Georgia still harbors College Football Playoff aspirations.
Throw in the propensity for close games in the series, like last year's white-knuckle affair that Georgia Tech won, 28-27, in the final minute, and it's easy to see why people throughout the Peach State are on edge this week.
Devine understands and expects fans to go from being on the edge to being on the edge of their seats for about three hours on Saturday.
"The game with Georgia is like a very fun and scary roller coaster," he said. "We'll hit a big play and then when Georgia hits a big play, it's like going down that really, really steep thing and you're like, `Please, don't let the roller coaster break.'
"It's always been fun," he added. "Even though we're rivals it still feels like we're Georgia brothers -- state of Georgia, not UGA brothers. We'll always come together and at the end of the game, hug it out then go our separate ways."
Devine, who'll make his first career start against the Bulldogs (he's played in each of the past three meetings) in his 48th-career game and 24th start, took the brother analogy a step further -- a step that showed that despite his jovial fun-loving demeanor, there's an undercurrent of vitriol toward Tech's intrastate rival, especially when it comes to losing to them.
"You'll be sitting there, you play a game and you think you're the best at it and then my little brother comes in and just wipes the floor with me," said Devine, the oldest of three (he has a younger brother and sister). "You're just like, `Give me an hour.' That's how I feel Georgia Tech [versus] UGA is. We're two brothers playing a video game. `Give me an hour.' It's more [like] `Give me a year.'"
It's been a year since Qua Searcy's dive with 30 seconds left on the clock gave Georgia Tech a thrilling one-point win between the hedges in Athens. When Devine takes the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, first for the pregame Senior Day ceremony, then for the game, he and the Yellow Jackets will look to beat UGA for in Atlanta for the first time since 1999. A triumph would also make it three wins in four years for his senior class.
Talk about a nice way to conclude a college career, right Shamire?
Wait for it....
"It would be a special way but I wasn't aware of it," he said. "I'm just ready to go beat them."
Is Devine simply playing possum? That's possible. He has a psychology course in his past and still has the books from it, although he admits he'd need to do some brushing up in them to find just the right mind-bending trick for Saturday.
"I still have psychology books from my freshman year. I have to go back over them. It's been three years since I took psychology," he said. "But if I come across something, I will use it."
Fortunately, he still has the textbooks. In fact, he has all of his textbooks from every course he's taken at Tech.
"I've accomplished a lot. I've slimmed up, trimmed off body fat, got good grades, I'm getting a degree," he said, looking back at his five years on The Flats. "Comparing it to back then, when I had all these offers, and the first thing that came out of my mouth was, `I'm going to Tech.' Everyone looked at me like, `That's blasphemy, man. You need to go somewhere else, like SEC.' I was like, `No. I'm going to Tech.' I get here I'm like, `Yes, I'm so happy.' Three years go by, I'm like, `Jeez, this is hard.' Five years go by, I'm like, `I am glad this is over!' This was an Army obstacle course but I made it. I climbed the wall and I'm about to cross the finish line.
"To me, the diploma's the biggest achievement. That's why I came to Tech. I wanted the degree, the education," he added. "Like everyone says, football is going to come and go. Any day can be your last day [playing football]. But the one thing they'll never take from you is the books and they have never taken my books from me ... these are my books and they'll be with me forever.'"
Devine has learned that Georgia Tech-Georgia is anything but by the book and that's fine. He's ready to just get down to, as the rivalry's name suggests, "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate."
"That sums it up," he said. "It's clean -- we like to play each other clean. It's old-fashioned -- it goes way back. And then it's still hate."
There's no skimping on the hate, but Devine still keeps things in perspective. His perspective, anyway.
"It should be no holds barred, Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather in the UFC (octagon) for the whole 60 minutes," he said. "Then we can go get ice cream afterwards. Everyone loves ice cream!"