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 …

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

Joe Sr.

March 23rd, 2009
12:08 am

A great, great article. It made my day. I’m going to cut this out of the newspaper and frame it. Those photos really bring back some wonderful memories of the good old days. Thanks, Mr. Carvell.

DAWG GONE IT

March 23rd, 2009
12:14 am

Of course THEM herschel’s waited until april to sign….. it took THEM that long to makeup thier MIND’S!!!

Volman

March 23rd, 2009
12:14 am

Bryce Brown is better than Herschel, and will win the Heisman as a freshman. He won’t have to wait until his junior year. Yes BB is that gooooood. You’ll see Georgia fans!

DAWG GONE IT

March 23rd, 2009
12:16 am

volman who’s gonna block for him??!!

BumbleBee

March 23rd, 2009
12:18 am

Nice shirt Vince.

DirtyDawg

March 23rd, 2009
12:27 am

Brown may be good, but he’ll never be as good as HW. Plus the last time I checked Tenn doesn’t open with Georgia and we don’t have any defensive backs named Bill Bates. The point is, Volman, no effin way your new toy will have as big a splash to open a career as Herschel…and I was there to rejoice in it. We really ‘raised a leg’ on you people that night. Not bad for just a ‘big, stiff, back’.

JustCallMeChamp

March 23rd, 2009
3:00 am

I’m a Florida Gator and I had the honor (?) of seeing Walker first hand. If there was ever a better college back, I sure haven’t seen him! I was sure glad to see him leave but I’m also glad I was able to witness his tremendous talent. I’ll be very surprised if this Bryce Brown is good enough to hold H. Walkers shoelaces!! Bo Jackson and of course Emmitt were tremendous, but HW was a one of a kind manchild and a beast!

Harmon L. Wages (former sportscaster Atl.)

March 23rd, 2009
4:35 am

I was changing jobs in Atlanta from channel 5 to 11.Naturally I wanted to start off with a big story or ‘big bang’ if you will. Somehow, almost strangely I was led to Wrightsville, Ga to find out, “who is this phenom from class ‘A’ that everyone was saying was not human and Coach Dooley had made this recruit his once in a life time super-blue-chip recruit.

Oh yes, there was but one stop light and the older white farmers sitting around the little blue heater discussing the days’ farming activities; and Herschel Walker. When we arrived and went to the hard red clay sand spur laden track I asked the Coach, Phillips, ” where is Herschel?” He very simply smiled and replied, “Oh you’ll know, just watch this 440 relay”. My cameraman and I did and yes, “we knew”.

From dinner that night with 21 of his family (some steakhouse in town) Herschel and I, a former NFL running back, bonded for now over 30 years.From his career at Georgia, through the Donald Trump era, to his appearances on various TV shows I know this man.

To close which could be a large part of a book; this thought for you my reader. in my 62 years of life I have never felt that ’special feeling’ surrounding Herschel but once again. That was the day here in Jacksonville meeting Tim Tebow also as a high school senior.

I feel ‘honored’.

Harmon L. Wages
#-5

I feel truly blessed.

Harmon L. Wages

[...] Brown can’t hold a candle to Herschel Walker, in more ways than [...]

FloridaDawg

March 23rd, 2009
7:13 am

I will never forget this: Back in 1980, when UGA players did their usual walk-round inside the Gator Bowl the Friday afternoon before the big game.
There was a very long line of autograph seekers in line to get Herschel’s autograph.
Half of the fans in line WERE Gator fans…..I asked one Gator fan why he would want HW autograph…he replyed, “I know a Heisman Trophy winner when I see one!”.
HW was only a freshman that day….

DawgGoneIt

March 23rd, 2009
7:28 am

And like USC…the Dawgs probably cheated to get him. Come on…How did Herschel really get that brand new Trans-Am and his mom a new house?

That would make a much better piece of journalism, don’t you think?

Maddog

March 23rd, 2009
8:38 am

Proof, DawgGoneIt, proof!!

Jimmy"Superfly"Snuka

March 23rd, 2009
8:53 am

What a sweet story. I near bout shed a tear.

Mac

March 23rd, 2009
9:10 am

You’re too modest Harmon. You are far more than just a former Atlanta sportscaster. But you are dead-on about Herschel and Tebow, two hosses of a very rare breed.

C tha 1

March 23rd, 2009
9:29 am

The only TWO college running backs that can even come close in comparison to Hershel Walker are Bo Jackson and Adrian Peterson. Can’t comment on Bryce Brown because I haven’t seen him, but I’m not expecting greatness on that level either.

FloridaDawg

March 23rd, 2009
9:33 am

Herschel built his parents a new home behind their old one when he signed for 5 Mil with the N J Generals.
I bought the Trans Am myself and gave it to him. He deserved it…wish that I had given him a Vette but thought that would be a little too much. He told me that if I bought him the Trans Am, he would punish the Gators so bad that they would want to MOVE the game out of Jacksonville.
He did just that…and the Gators, did in fact, want to move the game to home and home.

GATORZONE

March 23rd, 2009
9:42 am

I love Herschel! What a class act. He is the best on the apprentice! Great back, great man!
Kudos to Walker and all he brought to college football!

JB

March 23rd, 2009
9:53 am

Thank you GATORZONE……….you sir are a real football fan……we tip our hat to Tebow also. Just a once in a life time player like Herschel……Ya’ll will miss him…we will not…GO DAWGS…….

Buz

March 23rd, 2009
10:10 am

I was in Knoxville in 1980 when Herschel singled-handedly squeezed the Big Orange as a freshman. The memories are sweet.

gtforever

March 23rd, 2009
10:11 am

He was such a NICE guy! That’s funny…. Herschel was counting the dollar bills from Alabama. He wanted to make sure that UGA had given more… Please Vince, try again!

Kendawg

March 23rd, 2009
10:19 am

Herschel was well worth the wait. I’ve been a Dawg fan since 1959, even before I became an alumnus. I’ve never seen a more dominant player on the college level than Herschel. The Dawg fans were lucky fans from 1980 to 1982.

GATORZONE

March 23rd, 2009
10:26 am

Paid or not, the dude was and is a classy guy who was awesom to watch!

oledawg

March 23rd, 2009
10:30 am

I remember all too well, that it came down to Georgia and Clemson. I had just walked in my apartment,and turned on “March Madness”, as there was a Western region game involving Clemson. When it broke for a commercial, the camera scanned the Clemson student/fan section,and they put a sign up that read, ” We love you Herschel”. I’ll never forget that. They wanted him BAD.

luckie13

March 23rd, 2009
10:33 am

He was just waiting to see who came up with the best offer. Who does Dooley think he is kidding that he cared about the NCAA rules other than getting around them, and getting someone else investigate.

gtforever

March 23rd, 2009
10:38 am

I think he is a VERY classy guy, I just like to weed through HYPOCRISY! Especially when it comes to Vince Dooley… He had MORE recruiting violations than a supercomputer could count…

Buzz

March 23rd, 2009
11:35 am

And you know what? He can still file for his amateur status back and use his last year of eligibility for you next season.

That would probably make the score something like 45-43.

KingGator

March 23rd, 2009
12:18 pm

I graduate in 1980 from a small town in Florida, where a guy by the name of Melvin Simmons was about to sign with UGA too. He was a lightning fast runner in high school, and sports illustrated would later write that Herschel feared one player in his class might overtake him, and that guy was Melvin. It never happened, but in retrospect Melvin would have probably been a star on any other team. As a matter of fact he was rated higher as a rb in Florida coming out than was Mike Rozier, who also grad. in ‘80.

BILLY JACK

March 23rd, 2009
12:41 pm

Hey Buzz anybody who has a negative thing to say about the greatest back in college football history is a lowlife queer-now get back in your mothers basement until the sun goes down.

JB

March 23rd, 2009
1:25 pm

ALL YOU GT’ers might want to win 6 MORE IN A ROW BEFORE YOU TALK TRASH. Congrats, you won in 08, I guess that you think that 01-07 were just a bad dream??? Well, your streak will end at ONE. Remember, last years win ended 7 (SEVEN) straight by UGA. ONE win< SEVEN in a ROW. Thanks for playing, go finish your math homework!

mightyKC

March 23rd, 2009
1:37 pm

and Tebow and Herschel will be linked once again this fall when Tebow becomes the SEC’s ALL TIME RUSING TOUCHDOWN leader. Simply amazing, considering he only played full time for 2 years (up to this point, he has 43, to Walker’s 49), and that one small issue of him being a quarterback.

dap01

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?

mightyKC

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

JB

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

murfdawg

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!!!

gimmeabreak

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…

Buzz

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.

JB

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!

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.

dawgster

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

dawgster

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

BLAZER

March 23rd, 2009
3:42 pm

STILL 45-42 AND 49-10

dawgster

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….

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

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.

USMC DAWG

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.

oldmac

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.

JB

SEADawg

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.

Joe

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.

dap01

March 23rd, 2009
6:09 pm

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

DeeMack

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.

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!

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?

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.

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….

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!

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.

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.

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.

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……

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.

herschel walker | 4BLOGGER

April 6th, 2009
4:57 pm

[...] Georgias Herschel Walker was the trendsetter in lengthy football [...]

Ana

July 22nd, 2009
6:21 pm

I hope herschel can keep a straight poker face at the sports legends ultamite poker challenge this fall..i’ll be rootin for him.