Georgia’s Herschel Walker was the trendsetter in lengthy football recruiting battles

UGA's most famous football player, Herschel Walker, was the trendsetter for lengthy recruiting decisions almost 30 years ago (AJC)

Georgia coaching legend Vince Dooley had to laugh when asked about several of nation’s elite prospects holding out until far beyond signing day this year to announce college decisions. Dooley was a central figure in the lengthy recruiting battle that was the trendsetter nearly 30 years ago, when Herschel Walker delayed until April to sign with UGA.

“These young men didn’t wait as long as Herschel did,” Dooley said with a chuckle. “He signed on Easter and I’ll never forget that because I made a commitment to my wife to go see her brother in Boston and take all the children.”

“We were going to leave on a Thursday since the kids were out of school. But when the time came, I couldn’t leave. My wife said, ‘What do you mean you can’t leave?’ I told her Herschel hasn’t signed. She said ‘To heck with Herschel. Who does he think he is?’ I told her I don’t know who he thinks he is, but I know I can’t go. She was not happy, to say the least.”

Abandoned by his family, Dooley plodded into his football office on Easter morning. He was surprised to get a call from an assistant coach, who screamed with joy and relief that Herschel was finally ready to sign. Dooley immediately jumped into the car and sped over to Walker’s hometown of Wrightsville, Ga. But there was one problem.

“Ironically we had used all four of our visits, which was the NCAA rule at the time. We couldn’t be there when Herschel signed. So we had to wait outside in the yard. Then, after he signed, you could talk to him as often as you wanted. We went into the house and congratulated him.”

It proved to worthy of the wait. Six months later, Walker led Georgia to the 1980 national championship, and later won the 1982 Heisman Trophy.

Vince Dooley: It was a lonely but life-changing Easter on April 6, 1980 (AJC)

This year, tailback Bryce Brown of Wichita, Kan., who was ranked as the country’s No. 1 prospect by Rivals, postponed until March 16 to sign with Tennessee. Dooley was more familiar with tight end Orson Charles of Tampa, who deferred until March 6 to pick Georgia.

“I’m not surprised at anything anymore,” Dooley said. “For a lot of players, recruiting is tough on them. I know in Herschel’s case, he was so nice. I think that was one of the reasons he waited so long. He didn’t want to disappoint the colleges.”

“Of course, Herschel was actually the No. 1 player in the country at the time. I don’t believe Orson is that good. Nevertheless, [Charles] is pretty good. But that’s what still makes Herschel unique, in that respect. He held out longer than anybody, and he was No. 1.”

Dooley was asked if Herschel was his all-time favorite Georgia recruiting story? “It certainly wasn’t favorite with my wife, let’s put it that way,” Dooley said, again laughing.


Mark Richt finally gets his first 2010 commitment with Dalton DE Jalen Fields [Click here]

Georgia offers one of the nation’s top sophomores, Tucker linebacker James Vaughters [Click here]

62 comments Add your comment


March 23rd, 2009
3:28 pm

I apologize it was not Buzz or Volman who think they know about the working habits of Herschel’s dad. Just wanted to clear that up with Mr gimmeabreak


March 23rd, 2009
3:25 pm

Mr. Buzz and Volman, when you blog please speak of things you know, I was at Georgia when Herschel arrived, and no his dad did not work for the univ. of georgia, check your sources, he worked in wrightsville, how do i know this, our seats were next to theirs for his first 2 years at Georgia, also buzz, the reason he wasn’t touched was that once in the secondary there wasn’t anyone that could match his world class speed nor did they want to try and get in front of 222 lbs of a tank coming at them, people can always have an argument on who the best was, too also remember everyone knew who was going to get the ball and still, they couldn’t stop him most of the time…Bryce B. may turn out to be a great player, but lets see what he does in the SEC before you compare him to Herschel or Bo or Emmitt among others

1980 revisited

March 23rd, 2009
3:13 pm

Harmon Wages Where the heck are you and what are you doing? As a Georgia fan those were unforgettable times. I really enjoyed the football show each week with you and PaulHornung. I have often wondered about where you were — all I heard was you went back to Florida. I hope you are doing well and I agree with you that Herschel and Tebow were special and classy. God bless you Harmon and let us know what is happening with you.


March 23rd, 2009
3:13 pm

16 out of the last 19. thanks for playing
+ + + + + + + + + + +
AND you are still down HOW MANY all time? EAT IT!


March 23rd, 2009
2:35 pm

lol. Herschel played 10 years before I was born. And from the film I’ve seen of him he was virtually untouched on most of those long runs so I can’t really be a good judge. I’ll take your word for it if you saw him and say he was great but “the greatest college football player of all time”? Come on. lol. Last time I saw him he looked like an ex offensive lineman to me.


March 23rd, 2009
2:26 pm

Herschel also was notable in that he was one of the first high level recruits to demand a big $ payoff and a job for his dad. UGA gave it to him and the NCAA infractions committee (chaired by Mr. Dooley) ignored the complaints filed by other schools. Yeah, those were great days…


March 23rd, 2009
2:20 pm

hey gtforever,
I think Dooley has more wins over GT than a supercomputer can count.enjoy your rings and your one in a row!!!


March 23rd, 2009
1:44 pm

Mighty KC, consideing he gets more touches than ANY RB (his designed runs/optin + ALL the goalline runs) it’s not exactly MAGIC! Not taking anything from Tebow, just telling it how it is! He’s a stud, no doubt – but the system he plays in GREATLY aides his TD’s


March 23rd, 2009
1:41 pm

“Well, your streak will end at ONE. Remember, last years win ended 7 (SEVEN) straight by UGA. ONE win< SEVEN in a ROW”

funny, i remember that same logic when UGA won in 2007 vs the Gators.
“OMG, we’ve turned the tide! we won one! no wait, that’s 2 out of 4, it’s a series again!!”

yep, 16 out of the last 19. thanks for playing. go finish shining your preseason national championship or your ‘richt is great on the road!’ trophies.

and don’t forget, folks, to spay and neuter your pets! woof woof


March 23rd, 2009
1:38 pm

I knew Herchel before and after the Trans Am. Unless you actually know something, don’t blog. Go back to your team’s blog (if it has one).
Your statement is either from ignorance or lies. Which is it?