Last Word on Sports continues its offseason look at the legendary players from college football programs across the country. Today, we take a look at the Georgia Bulldogs football team, a program rich with talent and tradition.
The UGA football program was born in 1892 when a professor by the name of Dr. Charles Herty built a team and scheduled its first game against Mercer University, a resounding 50-0 win for the Bulldogs. Since that fateful day in 1892, Georgia has seen its fair share of stars that have led the program to victory in nearly 65 percent of the program’s more than 1,250 recorded games. Georgia football is more like a religion than a game in Athens, Georgia and its stars are treated like kings.
Here are the players who stand out from the rest as the greatest, most impactful football players in Georgia football history:
MOUNT RUSHMORE OF GEORGIA FOOTBALL
Herschel Walker, Running Back (1980-1982)
This one is a no brainer. Generally considered the school’s greatest player of all-time, Herschel Walker was a consensus All-American all three years he played and won the Heisman Trophy in 1982 after finishing third in 1980 and second in 1981. Walker also led the SEC in rush attempts and rushing yards all three years he was at Georgia, and he finished first in the conference in rushing yards per attempt in 1980. Walker is near the top (or at the top) in most major statistical categories in SEC history, and there have been many star running backs in the SEC. Oh, and don’t forget that UGA won a National Championship in 1980, thanks in large part to Walker.
David Pollack, Defensive End (2001-2004)
Do you remember all the way back in 2002 when UGA won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl en route to a 13-1 record and finished the year as the third ranked team in the nation? It’s hard to think about that season without going back to the Bulldogs game against South Carolina when Gamecocks quarterback Corey Jenkins dropped back in his own end zone, began his throwing motion and watched David Pollack jump in and intercept the ball straight out of his hand for a touchdown. Like Walker, Pollack was a three-time All-American while at UGA and he still holds the Georgia all-time record for career sacks with 36, which puts him near the top in college football history. Pollack was one of the best defensive players in the country during his time in Athens.
Aaron Murray, Quarterback (2010-2013)
Aaron Murray was a polarizing figure for the UGA fan base. Some loved him, some felt that Georgia could do better. But what Murray did at Georgia is unquestionably elite. He holds the record for most SEC career passing yards (13,166), beating out another Georgia quarterback icon in David Greene. Murray also holds the SEC’s career passing touchdowns record with 121, seven more than Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel had in his career. There were few players like Murray, who, though undersized, achieved many great successes due to his diligence off the field and in practice. Sure, he was privy to many technology and facility enhancements that UGA players from the past could only dream of, but what he was able to accomplish during his time in Athens should not be understated. The now Kansas City Chief even played 13 plays against Kentucky in his senior season after tearing his ACL. Aaron Murray was elite and exemplified what it means to be a DGD (Damn Good Dawg), even if his teams underperformed.
Charley Trippi, Quarterback/Running Back (1942-1946; interrupted by WWII)
Charley Trippi, a two-time All-American for the Georgia Bulldogs, helped guide the team to an 11-1 record in 1942 en route to the school’s only other National Championship. He was named the Most Valuable Player in the Rose Bowl against UCLA, but his career was put on hold because of World War II. After returning to school, Trippi won the Maxwell Award in 1946, an award given to the most outstanding football player in the country. Though stats from the 1940s are hard to come by, it is widely accepted that Trippi was one of the greatest and most dynamic players in Georgia football history, and he was inducted into the Georgia Circle of Honor in 1996.
Obviously, the Georgia football program has seen many legends and not all of them could make UGA’s Mount Rushmore.