What they saw, heard, and did left an impression which will last longer than any game hit, reported Cameron Lawrence later during the Central Mississippi Extravaganza.
"Absolutely. It makes you realize the blessings God has given us and makes you really want to use it to the max. And it's good to give back. Those kids are so supportive."
Indeed, the Bulldog players soon wondered who was cheering who most as they made rounds of rooms. According to assistant media relations director Kyle Nibblett, a serious hospital turned into a temporary playground for a lot of young kids and these visiting big kids. Who, all discovered, had quite a lot more in common than would be expected.
"Oh man, it was wild going to see the kids and putting a smile on their faces," Eulls said. "Knowing they are fighting a battle themselves, doing pretty good and working hard themselves."
Playing hard, too. Safety Louis Watson and receiver Brandon Heavens found themselves helping a young girl, Aniyah, paint a picture. Meanwhile receiver Arceto Clark and linemen Daniel Knox and Justin Malone joined Bully, the cheerleader mascot, in a game of UNO with three youngsters. When Bully's padded paws proved a little too awkward to handle the cards, Eulls rotated in so the game could go on. Knox was the eventual winner of that game.
"We got some good laughs," said Lawrence. "Some of the kids have tremendous personalities and it's just fun. I had a blast hanging out with them just like my buddies back home. I's good to make good friends." The senior linebacker found he'd attracted a young lady who finally got up enough nerve to ask if he had a girlfriend. Told yes, she turned attentions to punter Baker Swedenburg. "You have to bring a punter," Lawrence said.
What had everyone buzzing most though was the showdown of Eulls and Miss Alysha in Dance Dance Revolution. Now, Eulls wanted all to know, he didn't want to "show off" his moves too much. Besides, "I had to hold back a little bit. It was kind of a small room and I'm a big guy, I needed room to operate," the 280-pound end said.
"I showed a couple of my moves. Actually she ended up beating me with those moves and I couldn't quite believe it. Everyone was the judge. Even in my mind I think she won."
The truth is everyone won. "Those kids, I've got a whole new respect," said Lawrence. "They are just tough people." Quite a compliment from one of the SEC's top tacklers, to say the least. Just as the Bulldogs were impressed later by the turnout at the Central Mississippi Extravaganza, as in the face of stormy weather a record crowd of over 3,500 came to the convention center.
"It's a lot of Bulldog fans out there and they show great support," said Watson.
"This is why we do it," Lawrence agreed, as he let a young fan try on his oversized bowl championship ring. "If it wasn't for the fan base coming out and being excited. We were up at 4:30 this morning working, but it makes it all worth it when you see people supporting you like this."
(Thanks to Kyle Nibblett for information on the visit; players were interviewed at summer party.)