ATHENS — While his brothers are flying down to Jacksonville Thursday night, Jeremiah Theus will be standing on the sidelines in his No. 70 jersey as his teammates at Georgia Southern defend their nine-game home win streak against Texas State.
Then Friday after class, Jeremiah will drive down to his hometown to watch Nathan and John for the last time in the Georgia-Florida rivalry.
“It’s been great seeing them play at Georgia,” Jeremiah said. “It definitely is weird thinking this [season will] be the last time I see them in the red and black.”
Being the only brother to not go to Georgia after playing for The Bolles School, Jeremiah doesn’t get to call his brothers teammates. But he still looks to them for advice.
“He knows when to text me and call me and ask me for stuff, and he knows when he can call John and get his input,” Nathan said. “We kind of split the time with Jeremiah so he got double the love.”
Nathan, the oldest, is a fifth-year long snapper for the Bulldogs. John is also a senior and has been a four-year starter at tackle for UGA.
Jeremiah is also a left tackle, so John has been more of the mentor to him than the eldest brother.
“Obviously Nathan is older and he was kind of a role model to me growing up and then he went off to college, and it was me and Jeremiah still in high school together,” John said. “Showing him the ropes a little bit and showing him what I know is a big part of our relationship.”
From left to right: Jeremiah Theus, John Theus and Nathan Theus (Courtesy of the Theus family)
John teaches him the Xs and Os of playing offensive line, but he’s proud of Jeremiah for more than what can be seen after the snap of a ball.
“Having two older brothers that go to a big D-1 school can be hard on somebody,” John said. “You [could] feel like you’re overlooked.But he’s done an awesome job. I’m extremely proud of him.”
Jeremiah injured his shoulder earlier this season, which left him sidelined after playing in only one game for the Eagles. Though an obstacle, he called the injury a “hidden blessing.” It allowed him to go see his older brothers play often during their final year at Georgia.
And the next time he sees them play won’t just be another game — it’ll be a party.
For the Theus family, Georgia-Florida is quite the event. Nathan and John beg other players for more family tickets. Paul Theus, the patriarch, gathers family and friends for an all-day tailgate. Fans in both Georgia and Florida gear cheer for the same two guys.
“It’s cool to go back home and play. I mean, we know a lot of people in the stands or pregame walking around or after the game you see people you know in the stands,” Nathan said. “[We] went to school with them or [we] played little league ball with them or whatever it may be. It’s cool to see them. And of course, the family. The family is all there.”
Despite living in the area, the Theus family never took part in annual Georgia-Florida festivities until 2011, when Nathan first attended UGA. Since then, it has become a family tradition.
“It’s a big family weekend,” Jeremiah said. “It’s nice to have everybody back in Jacksonville and having Nate and John playing in the stadium that we always love going to and watching Jags games.”
After five years of allegiance to the tailgating scene of Georgia-Florida, are the Theuses going to keep the tradition up next year?
“If they don’t have a dog in the fight, it doesn’t really matter,” Nathan joked.
Paul and Lori Theus will have all three of their dogs in the same fight when Georgia plays host Georgia Southern on Nov. 21 at Sanford Stadium Being the last home game for the Bulldogs, the family face-off will also be John and Nathan’s senior night. John joked his family will have 300 people in Athens.
Jeremiah will be on the Georgia sideline for the pregame festivities, but he’ll be wearing “the good old blue and white” of Georgia Southern.
After the 2015 season, Jeremiah and the Eagles will be getting all the family’s attention. Nathan even suggested adopting the Georgia Southern-Appalachian State rivalry as the new date to mark on the calendar.
“I’m going to be the biggest Georgia Southern fan,” John said. “I’m going to try to make it to as many of those games as I can.”