Sports » On Tap
DiAndre Atwater and Lavondre Nelson are sophomore running backs on the football team. Hailing from Atlanta, Ga., Atwater and Nelson have combined for nearly 200 yards of rushing in the Tigers’ first two games of the season. The leaders of the Class of 2016’s rushing attack recently sat down with the ‘Prince’ to discuss the highs and lows of their careers, weather forecasting with their knees and who has better hair.
The Daily Princetonian: Where are you from, and what’s the best part about being from there?
DiAndre Atwater: I’m from just north of Atlanta. The weather, in addition to the women, is a great part about being from there.
Dre Nelson: I’m from Atlanta. The best part about being from Georgia is the weather. It’s a lot nicer than up here. I like the heat.
DP: How has Atlanta affected your personalities? Do you have accents?
DA: The thing that’s different in Atlanta is being around a lot of eccentric people down south. I’ve adopted that personality a bit.
DN: I’d definitely say I have a lot of different kinds of friends. The area I’m from, Stone Mountain, there are a lot of kinds of people.
DP: When did you both start playing football?
DA: I’ve been playing since I was six years old in rec-league football.
DN: I started playing when I was in sixth grade, when I was 13. My parents didn’t want me getting hurt earlier on. But I was always into sports: I’d been playing baseball since I was three and basketball since I was four.
DP: What led you two to play at Princeton?
DA: We knew each other in high school. Dre came to the school I went to in eighth grade at Greater Atlanta Christian. I left for public school second semester of freshman year, but we kept in touch. Princeton was in the mix for both of us, along with other Ivy League schools when recruiting time came around. I knew for sure I wanted to come here after visiting.
DN: I was recruited by a lot of Ivy League schools. Some bigger schools were also looking at me for track. But I wanted to play football, and when I visited here I met guys up here on the football team who I liked, and I liked the community here.
DP: Any pre-game rituals?
DA: I watch the “Boys of Fall” music video song and speech. It gets me into a different zone for the game that I love.
DN: I like to watch highlight tapes of other players. I watch Tavon Austin consistently. I like to emulate smaller backs, and envision doing stuff they do in games.
DP: What is the greatest moment of your football careers so far?
DA: The last game of my high school career was probably my best game. I got 300 yards, three touchdowns and set a Georgia high school playoff record. It was the best game I’ve ever had. Even though we lost in overtime, I knew I gave the best I ever had.
DN: I had one game in high school where I didn’t score, but it was the hardest I played. My friend broke his ankle that game, and I saw how hurt he was, knowing that he was out for the year. I looked over and saw the other team laughing at him, and that motivated me to play the hardest I’ve ever played. The best game I’ve ever played was last year against Harvard. I didn’t have the most yards, but it was my first college touchdown and I blocked a kick, which I had never done before.
DP: Do you have a most embarrassing moment on the field?
DA: I always got really nervous before games when I was younger. I would get so scared that I’d throw up everywhere — on the field, on the referees. Because of that my mouthpiece is really small. It looks like a pacifier when I put it in for games. This is weird, but I can also tell the weather with my knees. In high school, my knees would hurt before it would rain. It would be sunny and I’d say it’s going to rain, and my teammates wouldn’t believe me. But then it would rain. They made fun of me for having “weathercaster knees.”
DN: We played in the Georgia Dome for a game in high school, and I celebrated a touchdown. When I jumped to celebrate with one of my teammates, the jump was so off. I jumped before he even got there, which made it the most awkward celebration ever. That celebration ended up on my highlight tape. I was made fun of a lot for that.
DP: DiAndre, your brother is on Georgetown’s football team. How good did it feel when you beat him on Sunday?
DA: It felt great. My first run of the game was a 27-yard carry down the left side. He tackled me, but I knew I was already out of bounds. He’d been talking about tackling me the whole summer. But at the end of the game, he knew we’d gotten the better of them. He wasn’t too mad, but it was definitely really rewarding.
DP: Dre, how good did it feel to beat DiAndre’s brother?
DN: That was cool. He was on my team in high school and was the starting running back when I was the fourth-string running back. It’s cool to play someone you know, and revenge is pretty sweet after losing to Georgetown last year.
DP: Who is your weirdest teammate on the football team?
DA: Probably [senior running back] Brian Mills. No matter what, he notices every little thing you do. I don’t know why he enjoys doing that, but it’s hilarious and very weird.
DN: Brian is definitely one that comes to mind. I’d have to say [linebacker] Baxter Ingram. … He’s definitely the weirdest guy on the team. He made the Class of 2016’s Facebook group. At one point he kicked me out of the group. I don’t know why.
DP: If you couldn’t play football, what team would you join here?
DA: I’d join the soccer team. I’m definitely the best FIFA player on campus. But I don’t have the body type to play real soccer. I could be the soccer ball.
DN: I’d definitely play basketball. You can hear my voice — I have hoop dreams. I play a lot of it at home, and I really love the game.
DP: What is one thing you two cannot agree on at all?
DA: Being from Georgia, Dre thinks I need to be a Georgia fan. But I’m a Florida fan. Whenever we watch a Falcons game, I root for whoever they’re playing against.
DN: He likes country music, I don’t. But I can tolerate it now. I’ve grown to broaden my horizons.
DP: Who’s a better person of the two of you?
DA: Me. You would probably bring Dre to meet your grandparents, but you’d take me to hang out with your friends.
DN: Me. If you had to pick the two of us, would you pick me or “the ball”? He’d be a better mascot. I think I’m a better person, and he’s a better creature.
DP: Explain your relationship for us.
DA: We’re best friends, but any chance we have to mess with each other, we’re not going to hesitate to take it.
DN: Nobody’s safe when we’re all together. If you were to walk with our group and hear what we say, you’d think we hate each other. But we’re always just messing around.
DP: What do you guys do when you have down time?
DA: FIFA and Chinese food.
DN: He’s rubbed off on me with FIFA. I like to listen to music, too.
DP: Is there anything else we should know about you guys?
DA: I probably have the best hair on campus. I just want to throw that out there. And everyone should come to our game this weekend. Ivy Leaguer opener against Columbia.
DN: I have better hair, that’s not a question. We’re both fun-loving guys.