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Postcards From Orlando - Saturday

Dec. 18, 2004

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Yellow Jackets arrived in Orlando throughout the day Friday. Players, coaches and staff traveled on their own and assembled at the Marriott World Center throughout the day.

As they do for each bowl trip, the Tech staff sets up a mini-football complex in the hotel, converting ballrooms into a locker room, training room, equipment room, video room and meeting rooms for players and coaches.

Many players arrived early enough to enjoy the local scene – Universal Studios and Island of Adventure were the theme parks du jour for Friday.

A ride called “The Mummy” at Universal Studios seemed to be the biggest hit among the Tech players, according to freshman kicker Kyle Belcher. Popular with everyone except for a certain 6-3, 265-pound defensive end from New Orleans, La., that is.

“We’ve got an all-American defensive end who’s afraid to get on a roller coaster,” laughed Damarius Bilbo, referring to his roommate Eric Henderson.

When asked about balancing the many attractions available in Orlando with preparing for a football game, head coach Chan Gailey said, “When they’re on the field, I want them to work hard and focus on football, but when they’re off the field, I want them to have some fun. And our team is pretty good at multi-tasking like that; they have to do it all the time at Georgia Tech to balance football and academics.”

The Yellow Jackets held their first practice in Orlando Saturday morning at The First Academy, a nearby private school whose athletic facilities are named for late golfer Payne Stewart.

Most of the heavy preparations were completed in Atlanta, and now the Yellow Jackets will spend these final practices polishing their game plan.

After practice, it’s off to the MGM Studios theme park for the Yellow Jackets.

Tech has a number of players from Orlando or nearby, including defensive tackle Omar Billy, who attended Colonial High in Orlando, and cornerback Kenny Scott, whose hometown of Daytona Beach is just a short drive. Several other Yellow Jackets are from nearby Tampa, including tailbacks Rashaun Grant and Eddie Ivery.

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