Love of the game binds Chubbs from all over the college football map

— -- ATHENS, Ga. -- Brandon Chubb starts talking first, maybe because he is the oldest, maybe because he is the most outspoken among the three football-playing Chubbs sitting around a table inside the Georgia football facility.

His brother, Bradley, is quieter. He listens intently. So does their father, Aaron, whose picture hangs just outside the conference room among the many Georgia greats who played in the NFL.

Their cousin, Nick, is the most soft-spoken of the group. He looks at Brandon and nods every once in awhile.

"Christmas 2013," begins Brandon, a redshirt senior at Wake Forest. "I was home during bowl season. That was the first time we all caught up. Nick, with his success at Cedartown -- word started spreading around Georgia. So, me and Brad kept up with him. There was definitely a football connection all around."

Bradley, a sophomore at NC State, chimes in: "I remember walking around our high school, and my coach asking me, 'Do you know that Chubb kid from Cedartown?' I started asking my dad, 'Do we know him?' So I think that helped get us together."

"When I heard there were Chubbs around, I had to meet them because we all love football. We're all very athletic," Nick, a sophomore at Georgia, adds. "I wanted to get in touch with them to see how everything was going with them."

The Chubb cousins lived 50 miles apart, but football drew them together for their first meeting two years ago. Brandon was already playing linebacker at Wake Forest. Bradley and Nick were both high school seniors. Their get-together proved to be inevitable in a way. As Aaron tells it, "Pretty much if you're Chubb and from the area, you're related."

This Saturday, many of those relatives will descend on Winston Salem, North Carolina. Brandon and Bradley are set to play against each other for the last time in a college game when Bradley's NC State squad heads to Wake Forest (noon ET on ESPN3). Their parents had custom shirts made for the occasion. Forty-two friends and family members are expected to be in the stands.

Football has been a shared passion of the Chubbs for generations, but what will always bind them is their last name. Nobody calls any of them by their first names. Teammates call each one "Chubb." During ACC media days in July, Brandon did a double-take every time he heard NC State players Mike Rose and Jacoby Brissett mention "Chubb" during an interview.

"That means something to me because it feels like it stands out," Bradley says. "People ask me, 'Why do they call you Chubb?' I'm proud to say it's my last name."

The Chubb lineage goes through the fathers of Aaron and Henry, Nick's father, whose ancestors settled close to Cedartown in the 1860s, free black men during the time of the Civil War. Nick is named after one of the brothers who founded their community, known as Chubbtown. Nick's ancestors stayed nearby, in Cave Spring. Aaron grew up in Rockmart, about 24 miles away. He and Henry played high school football at the same time and knew each other. Henry went off to Valdosta State. Aaron starred as a linebacker at Georgia in the 1980s, and eventually settled in Marietta, Georgia.

Aaron lost touch with his extended family but made sure to teach his sons about Chubbtown, its history and what their last name represents. Brandon and Bradley made their last visit to Chubbtown for their grandfather's funeral, where they explored Chubb Chapel, off Chubb Road.

"I grew up close to Chubbtown, so my dad and his side of the family always told me stories about how they came from Virginia and they were powerful, very independent," Nick says. "They were never slaves. I know my dad always took pride in the name. He'd say, 'You're a Chubb, you can do this.' I think that carried over to everyone."

Aaron, Brandon and Bradley feel the same way. Once Aaron heard about Nick, he knew there had to be a connection. Aaron's sister got his family in touch with Nick's mother, and soon they met in Cedartown. Nick's brother and sister were there as well.

Nick's first impression? "They were big," he says with a wry smile. "We all resemble each other in the face."

They swapped stories from the recruiting trail and their own high school games.

"I remember his mom reaching under the couch and getting a cleat, and she said, 'This is Nick's cleat when he ran out of his shoes!'" Brandon says.

Nick, who would rather talk about anything but himself, cannot help but grin at the memory.

"On the sideline, I made a cut and my foot went through my cleat. My cleat was probably sitting right here," he says, pointing to his calf. "I thought I broke my foot or something, but my cleat gave out. I put it on the sideline, but someone in the stands was trying to get it and sell it immediately. That is the only time it ever happened."

As one of the most sought-after recruits in the country, Nick ended up at Georgia, a place some mistakenly believed he chose because Aaron exerted some influence during the recruiting process.

"Everybody asked me about Aaron Chubb," Nick says. "I never knew him, but I knew I was kin to him. I was asked that over 1,000 times. They still ask me."

"And I'm asked 1,000 times, 'Is that your son?" Aaron says.

Nick laughs.

After they met in 2013, Brandon, Bradley and Nick stayed in touch through text and social media, trading well-wishes, videos and random ideas.

"I sent Nick a Snapchat last year because my teammates were like 'Nick Chubb is way better than Todd Gurley!'" Bradley laughs.

Brandon, full of charisma and a spry sense of humor, texted Nick in the spring with a clip from practice. In it, Brandon attempts to hurdle a teammate after an interception.

Nick says in his even way, "It was good."

Bradley, in typical younger brother fashion, replies: "It was weak. Didn't get high enough."

"I kinda hyped it up," Brandon says. "It was just team [practice], so I didn't think he was going to tackle me."

"He tried to take you out!" Nick says.

They all laugh.

More than an hour goes by. Then reality hits: This Saturday in late July is only the second time the Chubbs have ever seen one another in person.

"It will be a cherry on top of the milkshake if we all have that breakout year that I'm hoping we all do have for our colleges," Brandon says. "It would be a great opportunity for the family. You start as a family that was never slaves, and now you've got all these people in college ball. Hopefully we can keep it going to the next generation."

Brandon leads Wake Forest in tackles with 60, while Bradley has the third-most tackles on an NC State team that ranks third nationally in total defense.

Nick, however, has no more opportunities to play this year.

Two weeks ago, the Heisman hopeful injured his knee against Tennessee. Bradley was watching live. Brandon was playing at Boston College at the same time. Bradley sent Brandon a text as soon as he saw Nick get hurt. Brandon saw the message in a jubilant postgame locker room.

His stomach dropped. He immediately texted Nick.

"It was sad," Brandon said. "That's something that emotionally sits on you. You can't really get it out of your mind. We got the victory, but that whole bus ride home I was thinking about it in the back of my head and teammates were coming up to me and saying, 'Hey did you hear about what happened to Nick?'"

Brandon reports that Nick remains in good spirits, and the family is thankful the knee injury is not as serious as initially feared. Unequivocally, Brandon believes Nick will be back stronger than ever.

That is something anybody with the Chubb last name knows for sure.