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.

MORE UGA RECRUITING …

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62 comments Add your comment

Cuz

March 29th, 2009
2:17 am

I watched every home game Herschel played. I have never seen a player that impacted a game more than Herschel. Out of ten plays he was going to get the ball eight times. I saw him carry two defensive backs into the endzone plenty of times. One of the greatest plays he ever made was as a decoy in the 1982 Clemson game under the lights. He had a broken thumb and it was third and goal. He had not come in the game all night. He came in, Lastinger faked to Herschel and the entire Clemson defense bit. I think it was Tron Jackson that went to the left and strolled into the endzone. I laughed so hard I thought I would choke. The Clemson fans around me did not think it was that funny. And no, Herschel did not score a touchdown against Clemson that night either.

LISA

March 28th, 2009
8:26 pm

Best times of my life…Going to high school in Athens and sitting on the tracks and watching Hershal play……

monty55

March 25th, 2009
1:19 pm

Herschel was and still is the greatest football player I have ever seen. I love Tebow and all that he has done and all that he stands for, but I have never, ever seen 1 player who was the one player every team prepped for, planned for, and keyed on and still dominated the game. He could beat you with speed, strength, moves, and any other skill you can think of.

swgaboy

March 25th, 2009
1:41 am

Funny how all these Tech fans think they know a different Vince Dooley than his peers did. Because the man was one of the most respected in his profession, and still is. That’s probably one of the reasons why Dooley was the FIRST recipient of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award.

At any rate, I hope the AJC is collecting info. on these posters that are committing libel.

dawgster

March 24th, 2009
3:01 pm

hey, gtforever, look at what the previous blog said about HW’s dad, he said that “UGA gave it to him, doesn’t matter anyway, people will believe what they want to even when its right in front of them to see, as fas comparing Tebow to Walker, this is apples and oranges, both great players, I do know this however, Walker was a world class track athlete also, he also never called attention to himself on the football field in college nor professional football, watch the film of him playing and you will see it first hand.

gtforever

March 24th, 2009
10:24 am

Hey Dawgster, he didn’t say he worked for the University, he worked close by. Hmmmm, imagine that, I guess the job market presented a opportunity that HW’s dad couldn’t pass up… Yeah right!

gtforever

March 24th, 2009
9:42 am

Thanks murfdawg, I guess it’s OK to be approve of a coach who is legendary with his number of NCAA infractions. But hey, you UGA fans, don’t care about how you win, it’s just WIN at any cost….

Too Easy

March 24th, 2009
9:15 am

It would be foolish to discount anything Tebow has done, but it’ll take Tebow 4 years of 5-yard carries for TDs to do what HW did in 3 years from longer range. I could be wrong, but I believe HW still holds the NCAA 3-year rushing record, and most likely would’ve set the 4-year record that would still be standing. Just an observation.

mightyKC

March 23rd, 2009
10:14 pm

geniuses…herschel had 900+ carries!! tim has only had half that! i don’t care if all of HW’s TD’s were from 100 yards, he had twice as many chances!

so don’t anyone give me this crap about it ‘being the offense’. look, i didn’t come here to denigrate HW…is was a great player, one of the greatest of all time. but the facts are, tim tebow will break his record w/ 300+ fewer carries…it’s impressive.

and if it was so easy to get 1 and 2 yd TDs, like everyone says, why didn’t bo jackson, emmit smith, HW, or anyone else ever do it?

Sven Ottke

March 23rd, 2009
9:54 pm

Ha! Since when did Teflon Vince worry about NCAA rules? What a riot. That guy was as crooked as the day is long. Someone ask him about the TA? Just ask him for gosh sakes!