The alma mater for the University of Georgia has a line that says “neath the pine tree’s stately shadow spread thy riches rare.”
In the shadows of the pines bordering the backyard of his Gwinnett County home is spread a replica of Sanford Stadium, the hallowed football field where the Bulldogs have dug their cleats into the sod against many an angry foe.
Williams himself played on this field 2003-07 after earning a scholarship to UGA coming out of Dacula High School as a highly regarded athlete.
The miniature field has lights, hedges, a bench, goal posts and the trademark “G” in midfield. Williams had the replica built for his son Braylon in the fall of 2010.
“I wanted to build something special for my son who was 2 at the time,” said Williams, who played fullback for UGA.
Braylon, who turns 4 in November, certainly has a unique playground.
“I wanted to build him a mini-Sanford Stadium so he could play on it any time he wants to. It’s really neat,” the 28-year-old said. “It’s almost like a ‘Field of Dreams.’ But the other part of it is because I’m in an industry that I want to show my clients the passion behind what we do.”
Williams and his business partner, Zach Hugo, own Outdoor Advantage, a business that focuses on landscaping and lighting.
“I got the inspiration from one of my clients, who has a beautiful flat backyard and he put field lights out,” Williams said, explaining the client wanted a ballfield so he and his son could play catch at any time of the day.
Sensing the possibilities for a field for himself, Williams decided to transform his own backyard. The field is about 23 yards long and Williams lined it in 1 to 2 yard increments.
“When he gets older it will be like a little red zone (the area between the 20 yard line and goal line). When he’s in high school, he’ll be able to practice a red zone offense,” Williams said.
“Our days (at work) are long and a lot of days I don’t have time to play with my son during the day, but now even if it’s dark I can still have quality time with my son,” he said. “I love to come out at night and watch him play.”
Williams has already indoctrinated his son into the Bulldog Nation. They go to games, walk out on the stadium field, and he’s able to meet the coaches and players. Williams’ brother works for the athletic association as an academic counselor for the defensive side of the football team, which also gives him greater access to the team than the average person.
“If you’re a Bulldog — a player, went to school there, or just a fan — we’re one big family,” he said.
Williams’ wife, Brittney, is a Vanderbilt University fan. “Her youngest brother is a redshirt freshman at Vanderbilt, so she would like to see a ‘V’ on it, but Braylon loves it, so she’s happy,” he said.
The field is also a showcase for the business.
“I wanted something tangible to show my clients what can be done,” Williams said. And one client wanted something similar.
“Last October, I got a lead on a
woman who wanted a soccer field and pool. We did one of the most impressive projects in northeast Georgia,” he said.
Come fall, Williams will travel to the real stadium in Athens. And he predicts a great season for 2013.
“I think Georgia will be good. They’ll surprise a lot people with their defense,” he said. “With Aaron (Murray) and our great stable of running backs, we’ll be the No. 1 offense in the SEC for sure. I think we have a great shot at winning the SEC.”
And the man who brought Sanford Stadium to his own backyard thinks Clemson will be a good test for the Bulldogs.
“I think it will be a high scoring game,” he said. “I’ll go with 35-21 — Georgia victory.”
• Check out more photos of the replica Sanford Stadium in our slideshow.