Georgia Tech defensive end Emmanuel Dieke will play his final regular-season game on Saturday at Grant Field against rival Georgia. (Special Photo)
ATLANTA Emmanuel Dieke admits that Saturday will be a pretty emotional day for him and his senior teammates at Georgia Tech.
Not only will he play his final game against rival Georgia, but it will be the final game for the seniors at historic Grant Field with the 3:30 p.m. national televised game.
“Yeah, it will be an emotional start for us,” Dieke said earlier this week via cellphone. “This the last one at Grant Field for all the seniors. It is always big when we play Georgia. I’m excited about it. I’m ready to play.”
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound defensive end earned his degree in business management last spring, but returned to The Flats to use his final year of college eligibility. A former all-state standout at North Clayton High, Dieke has aspirations of playing professional football.
He could get his shot in April’s NFL draft, or catch on with a team as a free agent.
“It is definitely a dream and hope of mine to play pro football,” said Dieke, whose named is pronunciation: D-A-kay. “You work hard for that goal.”
If it doesn’t pan out on the next level, Dieke, who is of Nigerian descent, said he will likely return to school to earn a graduate degree in a yet to be determined major. He took a graduate course over the summer.
“I was glad that I was able to finish my degree, and concentrate this season on just playing football,” he said. “The big reason you go to college is to get your education. I was definitely pleased at being able to get it.”
But now, his main concentration is getting his first victory on rival Georgia. The Bulldogs come into the game having won the last four contests in a rivalry that is billed as “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.”
Georgia Tech and Georgia share identical 7-4 records, so the game will help define each team’s season.
“I think our guys understand how important this game is,” Georgia coach Mark Richt told the Associated Press this week. “I don’t know if we’ve had a game where I’d say that we came out flat. I think we’re playing our best football when we play Georgia Tech. A lot has to do with wanting to honor our seniors with the way that we finish as a team, and I think a lot of it is that most of our guys grew up in Georgia and understand it.”
Nicknamed “Too Tall” during his playing days at North Clayton, Dieke comes into Saturday’s game with 24 tackles and four sacks. It will mark the last game that he will play against his former North Clayton teammate Amarlo Herrera, a starting inside linebacker for the Bulldogs.
”I’m looking forward to playing against Amarlo,” Dieke said. “I think it is pretty cool that two Clayton County guys are playing in the state’s biggest rivalry. I have a lot of respect for Amarlo as a player and as a person.”