Jack Williams Column
Georgia Tech football has turned into a family affair – in more ways than one. The Jackets’ emphasis on team unity takes on new meaning when “real brothers” are out there exchanging bear-hugs in a victory celebration.
That’s what happened last Saturday night when flanker Jon Muyres, a starter on offense, and free safety Jeremy Muyres, a starter on defense, made crucial plays down the stretch to help Tech survive a tough struggle with Central Florida, 21-17.
With just seconds left on the clock, Jeremy intercepted a Golden Knights’ pass to seal the win. And guess who was the first man to sprint on the field to offer congratulations and start the Tech offensive series? None other than big brother Jon.
“Yeh, I had to give my brother a hug,” Jon said. “But when it was all over, we didn’t talk about what we did in the game. We talked about the play of the defense, as a whole, and about the good things we did on offense. Football is a team game, and that’s what we talked about.”
The Muyres brothers hope to have a lot of similar things to talk about as this season unfolds, starting Saturday night when Florida State, the nation’s No. 2 team, invades sold-out Bobby Dodd Stadium at Grant Field for a crucial Atlantic Coast Conference meeting (8:07 p.m. on ABC TV).
“FSU is just as good as it always has been,” Jon Muryes says. “There’s never any drop-off with that team. It just seems like the same guys put on uniforms with different numbers. Year in and year out, FSU is one of the best teams in the country.”
Jeremy Muyres seconds the motion. “They have the most talented group of receivers in the country,” he said. “And (Chris) Weinke, the quarterback, has been doing it for three years. This game definitely will measure how much progress we have have made as a defense. It will tell us where we are.”
Jon, a senior, and Jeremy, a sophomore, are fast becoming known as one of Tech’s best brother acts ever in football. Both came to the Jackets highly-recruited after playing starring roles in three sports (football, basketball and track and field) at Parkview High in Stone Mountain.
In the Tech season-opener last Saturday, Jon had five pass receptions for 71 yards, including a 27-yarder that gave Tech a key first down on the first of two late touchdown drives. Jeremy recorded three tackles, two of them unassisted, broke up a pair of passes, and then intercepted the one that mattered most near the end.
Jeremy opened his Tech career as a true freshman last season, making his mark as the fourth leading tackler on the team with 69. He came close to breaking the Tech record for tackles by a defensive back when he recorded 18 in last year’s game against Wake Forest. He had 13 tackles and two pass breakups in the win over Clemson.
Jon has played in 24 games during his Jacket career, including 12 in 1997 as a free safety and 12 last season as a flanker. He sat out the 1998 season with an injury. He had 16 pass catches last season, averaging 13 yards per reception.
“If Coach (George) O’Leary decided he needed me back on defense, I would gladly move to help the team,” Jon said. “I just want to play. It doesn’t matter where.”
Jeremy believes Tech has made big strides on the defensive side of the ball. “Our main improvement has been in strength and speed, and in team chemistry, too,” he said.
Jon uses the word “chemistry,” too. “For this first time this past year, Coach O’Leary had us lift and run as a team during the off-season,” he said. “That definitely brought us more together. We have more team chemistry than before.”
The Muyres came by their athletic ability quite naturally. Their father, Dennis, was a basketball and football star in high school in Minnesota and their older brother, Jeffrey, was a starter in the secondary for Wake Forest, winding up his football career in 1998.
Jon came close to following in Jeffrey’s footsteps at Wake Forest.
“My best friend in high school, Brett Millican, and I were pretty well set to go to Wake Forest,” Jon said. “I had always thought it would be special to play with Jeffrey. But at the last minute, Brett changed his mind. His girlfriend decided to go to Georgia and he did too. I guess you could say he chose his girlfriend over his best friend.
“The truth is I had not been all that comfortable on my visit to Wake Forest. I immediately felt this was ‘home’ when I visited Georgia Tech, so I came here.”
Jeremy says when the time came much later for him to choose a college, “My main influence in picking Georgia Tech was the fact that my brother was here. I had always hoped to play on the same college team as Jon.”
The brothers find it “challenging and fun” being on the same team. “We give each other grief in practice,” Jon said. “Muyres, you haven’t done anything all day-and so forth. We always try to make it fun.”
The brothers find life away from the football field, to be a lot of fun, too. “We don’t have time for much besides football and classes (in management) during the week,” Jon said. “But we enjoy getting together after games for tailgates and for other good times on the weekends.”
When Jon and Jeremy appeared together at Tech’s weekly media session last Tuesday, Jon stole the show by joking about Jeremy’s name.
“It’s strange to sit here and hear the name, Jeremy,” Jon said. “I’ve known him only as ‘Bud,’ for such a long time. Our sister, Aimee, gave him the name ‘Bud.’ It was a nickname she had given some character on her favorite television program.”
Jeremy revealed that the show was the soap opera, ‘The Guiding Light.’ That surprised Jon, who said, “Gosh, all this time, I’ve thought it was ‘The Cosby Show.’ The reporters had a good laugh.
Incidentally, Aimee, at 27 the oldest of the four Muyres children, made her mark as a model in New York City before marrying and returning to settle in Stone Mountain as Mrs. Aimee Nevarez.
The Muyres brothers have a special reason for trying to make this an outstanding season for Georgia Tech. It may be the last time they play together on the same team. Nothing would make it sweeter than a win over Florida State.
“I think we getting closer to FSU than we were in past years,” Jon said this week. “But you can’t beat FSU playing a good half or three good quarters. You have to play sound football for the entire game. So let’s see how it goes. It starts Saturday.”
The Muyres brothers are ready for action-and hopefully, some more bear hugs.