Special Send Off

CLEMSON - The story has been documented many times over the course of the last 18 months, but wait until you hear how the Richt family helped send Jon off to Clemson.

Most Clemson fans have probably heard the story several times by now.

Jon Richt, son of head Georgia head coach Mark Richt, verbally committed to Clemson in February 2007 before signing his letter of intent with the Tigers a year later.

In its simplest terms, it was the son of Georgia's head coach going to play for what used to be one of the Bulldogs' biggest rivals - Clemson.

The younger Richt said from the very beginning he wanted to be "his own man" away from the spotlight of his father, and quite frankly, his dad agreed.

Still, it was an intriguing twist for a kid who naturally grew up a huge Georgia fan while his dad roamed the sidelines in Athens winning SEC Championships.

And now that Jon is enrolled at Clemson with the majority of the Tigers' 2008 recruiting class, his college career is officially underway. However before he left Athens for Clemson, his dad had a trick or two up his sleeve.

A little more than a month ago, Mark Richt wanted to make sure he sent his son off to college with something to think about. He didn't want him to leave the family and forget about his upbringing or the support system he has in place behind him.

So what did he do?

He made sure his son knew just how important he was to the rest of the Richt family just a few days before he left for Tigertown.

"It was actually pretty awesome," said Jon. "We had a thing where all my uncles and the men in the family would come in and say a word to me before I left for Clemson. He tried to keep it away from me but I actually figured it out two days in advance but I acted like it was surprise.

"Pretty much all the men stood up and gave me words of advice and they wrote me letters to keep my faith strong and keep my morals and keep working hard just like I've been doing the last 18 years.

"It was a great experience. I've got the letters sitting in my room right now and my dad actually broke down for a while he was talking. And you know how my dad is on the sidelines. He always keeps his composure. So to see him do that was a big thing. It was great."

And so now the next chapter of Jon's life begins- as a Clemson Tiger of course.

Strangely enough he says the two programs, and their two head coaches aren't that different.

"Coach Bowden grew up under his dad and my dad grew up under his dad also. So it's a lot of the same philosophies and stuff, just in drills and how they handle themselves," he said. "But I've been around Georgia so long. I went to their bowl game last year and I was on the field with the guys but I wasn't a part of the team. Here I'm a part of the team, and that's been great."

Not surprisingly, when Jon suits up in the Georgia Dome on Aug. 30 for the first time wearing the orange and white, his dad will be there to show his support.

Georgia hosts Georgia Southern in Athens earlier in the day at 12:30 while the Tigers and Crimson Tide face off at 8:00 PM in Atlanta.

It's just enough time for the old man to make the quick trip west.

"Even though I'll be redshirting this year I'm going to be suiting up," Jon said. "So he'll make it to the Alabama game and some of the Thursday night games when we play but I'm not expecting him to be here obviously too much."

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