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Postcards From Orlando - Sunday

Dec. 19, 2004

ORLANDO, Fla. – On their third day in Orlando, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets seem to have had their fill of theme parks. Many visited MGM Studios Saturday afternoon after practice. Disney’s Magic Kingdom is available for Sunday, but most players will likely opt to rest rather than frolic with Mickey Mouse.

The highlight of Sunday, however, involved a trip to a park of another sort as a group of Tech players visited Give Kids the World Village, a unique amusement park for terminally ill children. The Jackets spent a couple of hours with these amazing children, playing games, signing autographs and eating ice cream.

“It’s really an honor for me to be here,” said senior center Andy Tidwell-Neal. “It is nice to have a chance to hopefully brighten the lives of these children. So often we talk about giving our all on the football field, and sometimes you forget that it’s really just a game. This really puts things in perspective.”

Senior free safety James Butler echoed Tidwell-Neal.

“This is a very humbling experience, but it’s been great,” said Butler. “The young man that I hung out with, Charles, seemed to have a really good time. He kept reminding me that he beat me twice in putt-putt.”

While the PGA Tour may not be in Butler’s future, a date with Syracuse is.

“This is my last game, so I really want to go out a winner,” said the two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference honoree. “Georgia Tech has the winningest bowl record, and we want to keep that alive.”

The game with Syracuse features a matchup between’s Tech’s outstanding defense, which ranks 14th in total yards allowed and 19th in rushing yards allowed, and the Orange’s potent rushing attack, which averages 190.4 yards per game.

“Syracuse is a great team,” said Butler. “On offense, they have a lot of guys who can tote the rock, but we can’t worry about who is back there. We just have to focus on our assignments and do everything we can to stop the run.”

The Syracuse team arrived in Orlando Saturday night, and Tech players had a chance to mingle with some of the Orange players at Give Kids the World Village. The teams will attend Monday’s kickoff luncheon together.

Tech practiced Sunday afternoon at The First Academy.

Post-practice entertainment included a piano duel between two of the more musically inclined Yellow Jackets, Butler and freshman defensive tackle Darryl Richard. The two players took turns at a hotel piano, with the rookie from Destrehan, La., getting the best of the senior.

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