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
8:21 pm

It’s funny how easy people can get off track. The article was about recruiting and how long it takes recruit to sign with a team. Herschel Walker vs Tim Tebow is like comparing apples to oranges and I am neither a Dawg fan or Gaytors fan. I am a UM Hurricane fan and HW is up there with the best! Not only was he an overall athlete, but has displayed character even after the “game” was over. That’s what I like about him the most.


March 23rd, 2009
6:09 pm

gimmeabreak: You don’t have a clue. Your are telling lies.


March 23rd, 2009
5:45 pm

He was headed to Clemson before UGA offered him more money. That’s ok. He never scored a TD against Clemson.


March 23rd, 2009
5:24 pm

Jeez people: Herschel was an all-time great: a once-in-a-generation player. Just like Tebow! Freaking sit back and enjoy the spectacle (or cherish your memories about HW).

I swear, I truly pity you people who feel the need to post your hatred in the comments section of a blog– your lives must be terribly pathetic and empty to warrant you expending such energy meaninglessly spewing venom in a forum where it will go almost completely unnoticed… it’s just unfathomably sad.


March 23rd, 2009
5:19 pm

Bo Jackson is 2x the man that HW is. Would have loved to see HW try to hit a major league curveball.



March 23rd, 2009
5:03 pm

Tebob may become the SEC’s all time TD leader this season, but how many of those runs are from 5 yards or less? I’d say at least 35 of them. Now check and see how many TD’s over 20 yds. HW had.

Les W. More

March 23rd, 2009
4:43 pm

Good story. Walker was one of the best. Good thing Mutt fans have a memory otherwise it’s just an annual pre-season hype-fest… now days.
Less With More.

Lame Kitten aka Lane Kiffin

March 23rd, 2009
3:52 pm

I’m really a genius. Well, until Bama, Georgia and Florida pound us into the ground


March 23rd, 2009
3:48 pm

Ok we get it the dawgs lost to tech 45-42 and to the gators 49-10, congrats on the wins, next season is a new one and lets see what happens, if you win again, then congrats, but please move on, have some meaningful conversations, I’d be surprised if any of you guys that keep hammering on the scores, ever played a down of football, were not happy wirh last year results, but it is what it is, we will make adjustments hopefully the shoe will be on the other foot this year….


March 23rd, 2009
3:42 pm

STILL 45-42 AND 49-10