December 26, 2007

Hello New Orleans

Walk-on quarterback Jonathan deLaureal has yet to play a down for Georgia and chances are he won't.

But for the week leading up to Tuesday's Sugar Bowl date against Hawaii, deLaureal's role with the Bulldogs may be the most important of all.

A New Orleans native, deLaureal has become the team's "unofficial" tour guide for the Bulldogs' stay in the Big Easy.

"Everybody wants to know where the good places are to go eat: like there are any bad places to eat in New Orleans," deLaureal said. "Actually, I've come up with a few lists, especially for the trainers and what not."

DeLaureal even had a few suggestions for reporters.

"You've got to go to Felix's, great seafood and great food all around," deLaureal said. "New Orleans is a great place to go and an interesting place to go."

But first things first:

The Bulldogs all arrived safely into town Wednesday afternoon and went through a short workout at the Louisiana Superdome.

Georgia will work Thursday through Sunday morning in the Superdome, leaving plenty of free time for exploring New Orleans, which no doubt will include Bourbon Street and French Quarter.

Hawaii will hold its practices in the afternoon at the practice facility of the New Orleans Saints in nearby Metairie.

Head coach Mark Richt said he wants his players to enjoy the bowl experience, but warned the Bulldogs about getting into any trouble.

"You always worry," Richt said. "You can have fun without getting into trouble. If you get into any trouble, then you have problems."

Georgia and Hawaii will both have curfews in place for players to return to their respective team hotels.

The Bulldogs are staying in the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, which just happens to be right next to Harrah's Casino.

"We know we can't get too caught up in what's going to be going on in New Orleans," senior center Fernando Velasco said. "We've got a big game ahead of us, so I don't think you'll see anyone doing anything too crazy."

Delaureal is just happy to be back home.

"I'm excited. It's my hometown, so I'm excited to be going back," he said. "It would have been exciting to go to Pasadena, but this is really nice to go home and be able to spend a long time in New Orleans and not have to practice anywhere else."

He promises teammates will have a good time as well.

"There's some little hole-in-the-wall places that I'm going to be showing the guys," said deLaureal, who has stayed busy trying to score extra tickets for family members anxious to come to the game.
"I hope to get as many tickets as I can," he said. "I'm getting them for my two brothers, one of my brother's wife, my parents; hopefully I'll get my grandparents up there, too."

As for his hometown, deLaureal said the Bulldogs will see a city that looks much like it did before the days of Hurricane Katrina.

"Really, in the big scheme of things, much of the city we'll see went pretty much unscathed," deLaureal said. "It probably won't look a lot different, although there are areas like the Ninth Ward that you keep hearing about on the news. But really, a lot of the places haven't even been touched by the rebuilding effort."

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