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For In-State Players, Pride is on the Line in the Iron Bowl

The passion surrounding the Iron Bowl is inescapable for those who grow up in the state of Alabama.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Anyone who is from or lived in the state of Alabama knows how much the Iron Bowl means to people in the state. 

Alabama football is a national brand, which allows the coaches to recruit players from all over the country, yet about half of the Crimson Tide's roster is from the state of Alabama. From Mobile to Montgomery to Muscle Shoals, from Tuscaloosa to Trussville and everywhere in between, the roster is filled with players from the Yellowhammer State.For those guys, this game is something they've been hearing about all their lives.

"Growing up in Alabama, one of the first things is that when I even thought of the Iron Bowl, it's the pride aspect," said Alabama defensive lineman LaBryan Ray. "The respect that we have for each other. Every time they match up, it's two great teams going head-to-head."

Ray, the redshirt senior defensive lineman, was one of the top prospects from the state in high school coming out of James Clemens in Madison. He's battled through injuries in his Crimson Tide career, but as as in-state guy, this is a game he's always wanted to participate in.

"Just being from Alabama, every year around this time, just watching from a spectator point of view, it was something that I always knew I wanted to be a part of," Ray said. "Even now, to be able to be a part of the Iron Bowl, it's something special. It's something I've always viewed as special."

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Redshirt senior running back Brian Robinson Jr. comes from Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa about 15 minutes away from Bryant-Denny Stadium. Growing up an Alabama fan, Robinson said games like the Kick Six or the 2017 Iron Bowl, the first he got to play in, always stick with him. 

Alabama has lost to Auburn more than any other team in the Nick Saban era. Robinson believes that it has to do with the nature of both teams being in the same state and what it means to the people.

"I think it’s, back-and-forth with us because we’re two teams in Alabama," Ray said. "That rivalry means a lot to both sides. I’m sure when they show up to play, those fans, those players feel the same way when we show up to play. It’s always a hard-fought game. We just have to respect that."

With the other half of the roster not growing up in this environment in the state of Alabama, Robinson said he has to let his teammates know how serious this game is.

"This is an important game for all of the Alabama community," he said. "I take it very personal, the rivalry. Alabama-Auburn is one of the biggest rivalries in all of college football. I just want those guys to know how important this game is to the whole Alabama community."

This story will be updated with video from Tuesday's press conference.