With 16 representatives (with a 17th and a potential 18th on the way), the University of Georgia is among the top Dawgs when it comes to members of the College Football Hall of Fame. Fourteen players and two coaches make up this elite group of Hall of Famers who have had a profound impact on the program that calls Athens, Georgia home. So, what better way to spend this crazy off-season than looking at these 17 men. Here we rank the best Dawgs in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Dawgs in the College Football Hall of Fame: Part One
Honorable Mentions: Champ Bailey, David Pollack, Glenn “Pop” Warner, and Jim Donnan
These three could arguably be on the list, but due to technicalities are left off. Bailey was listed on this year’s ballot and will more than likely make it into the group at some point. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2019, and his college resume is almost as impressive as his pro resume. Pollack is right on the line, as he has been elected to the Hall of Fame, but not yet officially inducted. Warner and Donnan are both in the Hall of Fame already, and rightfully so, but neither are in as Dawgs. Warner is in as the coach of Carlisle Indian Industrial School and Donnan is in as the coach of Marshall University.
16. Vernon “Catfish” Smith – End
Inducted in 1979, Catfish Smith had some incredible moments on the field. He was an even larger character off of it. Smith was a member of the Georgia football team from 1929-1931, with his brightest moment on the field being during a game against Yale in 1929. The Bulldogs from Athens were the underdogs against the Bulldogs from New Haven, CT. The side from down south pulled off the 15-0 upset behind Smith’s 15 points. He scored them on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, a kicked extra point, a touchdown reception, and a safety.
Outside of football, Smith also captained the basketball and baseball teams and would go on to coach all three sports at some point. He went on to serve as a colonel in the Air Force. Oh, and he got the “Catfish” nickname by biting off the head of one for a 25 cent bet in high school.
15. John Rauch – Quarterback
One of only two quarterbacks to be in the Hall of Fame as Dawgs, Rauch took the reins of the Georgia offense from his time setting foot on campus as a true freshman in 1945. In 1946, Rauch helped lead the Dawgs to an undefeated season. In his senior season, he was named SEC Player of the Year. Ruach was the first player to start in four straight bowl games. The Dawgs made four straight New Year’s Day bowl appearances during those years. Following his time in Athens, Rauch went on to play in the NFL for a few leagues before beginning a storied coaching career that included leading the Raiders to a Super Bowl II win, as well as being credited with inventing the West Coast offense. Rauch was inducted in 2003.
14. Matt Stinchcomb – Offensive Tackle
The most recent inductee from the University of Georgia, Matt Stinchcomb joined the Hall of Fame in 2018. With his induction, Stinchcomb become only the third College Football Hall of Famer to have also received the William V. Campbell Trophy, more commonly known as the Academic Heisman. He played for the University from 1995-1998. Stinchcomb became a two-time All-American while at Georgia He earned the honor during his junior and senior years with the second time being a consensus pick. He would also receive the Campbell Trophy, the title of Academic All-American of the Year, and a spot in Georgia’s Circle of Honor. After graduating near the top of his class, Stinchcomb went on to play with the Raiders and appear in a Super Bowl. Now, Stinchcomb is often seen as a guest speaker and working with SEC Network as an analyst.
13. Bob McWhorter – Running Back
Inducted in 1954, Bob McWhorter spent the 1910-1913 seasons in Athens with the Dawgs. McWhorther was only a junior when he joined the Georgia team, but would go on to rack up sixty-one touchdowns. McWorther played both baseball and football and would captain both teams his senior year. After his four years at Georgia, he turned down a professional baseball contract to pursue a law degree. It would all come full circle, as he made it back to the University of Georgia as a law professor from 1923-1958. He also served as mayor of Athens from 1940-1947.
12. Bill Stanfill – Defensive Tackle
Stanfill played in Athens from 1966-1968 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. Stanfill was a one-time consensus All-American, as well as an Outland Trophy winner. Vince Dooley said that he was the greatest defensive lineman he ever had and “one of the greatest linemen to ever play the game.” In a 51-0 win over Florida in his senior season, Dooley even put Stanfill in at quarterback to close out the game. Following his time in Athens, Stanfill played eight seasons for the Miami Dolphins.
11. Scott Woerner – Cornerback
Like Stinchcomb, Woerner is a recent inductee, having joined the Hall of Fame in 2016. Woerner was a member of the Georgia team from 1977-1980. The cornerback still sits tied for 6th all-time in school history in interceptions as well as in the top ten of career punt return yards, punt returns yard per return, and interception return yards in SEC history. Woerner went on to spend five seasons in pro football between the NFL and the USFL. One of Woerner’s brightest moments was in the 1981 Sugar Bowl against Notre Dame. Woerner was able to grab two interceptions in the game. That included one in the closing moments to clinch the Dawgs 1980 National Championship.
10. Fran Tarkenton – Quarterback
The second of two quarterbacks on this list, Tarkenton was in Athens from 1958-1960 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987. Tarkenton followed in the footsteps of John Rauch as one of the greatest quarterbacks in Georgia history. In his senior season, Tarkenton led the SEC in pass completions, pass attempts, completion percentage, passing yards, and total yards. Nimble on his feet, Tarkenton was one of the first true dual-threats, being able to beat you over the top or with his legs. His real glory years came after college, however. He spent eighteen years in the NFL, thirteen of which were with the Minnesota Vikings. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, once an MVP, and had his #10 retired by the Vikings.
9. Bill Hartman – Fullback
Hartman played in Athens from 1935-1937 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984. During that time, he played fullback, linebacker, and punter. He was a one time All-SEC and All-American. Hartman played two seasons in the NFL. His real impact was after his playing days. Hartman returned to UGA as an assistant coach, only missing some time to serve in World War II. After the NCAA did away with volunteer assistants, Hartman enrolled as a graduate student at age 77 to continue coaching. Hartman coached under both Wally Butts and Vince Dooley.
He mentored Georgia legends and fellow College Football Hall of Famers Frank Sinkwich, Charlie Trippi, and John Rauch. In 1992, the university introduced the Bill Hartman award for student athletes. It is given to those “who have demonstrated excellence in their profession and/or in service to others by 20 or more years of superior performance after graduation.”
These eight men have had a huge impact on the Georgia program, and they are just the first half of the list. Part two of our recap of the most impactful Georgia Bulldogs in the hall of fame will come later this week.