Who are Georgia’s Top 10 football players of all time?

Coming up with No. 1 on a list of Georgia's 10 greatest players is easy. But it gets increasingly hard as you move down the list and can produce arguments what will last into the night. (AP Photo)

Coming up with No. 1 on a list of Georgia's 10 greatest players is easy. But it gets increasingly hard as you move down the list and can produce arguments what will last into the night. (AP Photo)

So as I mentioned on social media yesterday, I’ve been working on a summer project for the AJC in which one of the assignments was to name the 10 “most memorable players” in Georgia football history. Do you have any idea what a maddening and pretty much impossible task that is?

You can say a lot of things about the Bulldogs, but they have produced a lot of great players in their 120-year football history. And I don’t use the term “great” lightly. In all, they’ve had 68 All-Americans and 12 Bulldogs have been inducted in the College Football Hall of Game.

It was so hard to limit to just 10 players that I finally turned to Facebook and Twitter and just kind of threw it out there to get the opinions of Georgia fans. As is usually the case when you present something to the Bulldog Nation, the response was overwhelming and passionate. In the end, the feedback helped me finally whittle down the last few choices. But in other ways it made the whole exercise even more confusing as a couple of names came flying in that I hadn’t considered.

The reality is, when you’re thinking of “great” and “memorable” Georgia football players, you could easily list two dozen without batting an eyelid. But the assignment called for 10, not 24, so here’s what I finally went with:

  1. Herschel Walker, TB (1980-82): Every conversation about great Georgia players begins and ends with the “Goal-line Stalker” from Wrightsville. All Walker did was come in as a true freshman and rush for 1,616 yards and 15 touchdowns and lead the Bulldogs to their first consensus national championship since 1942. Walker went on to become a three-time consensus All-American and finally won the Heisman Trophy as a junior in 1982. He finished his career with 5,259 yards in just 33 games, an average of 159.4 per contest.
  2. Charley Trippi, TB (1942, ‘45-46): Trippi is still regarded by many as the greatest all-around athlete to ever play for the Bulldogs. As a senior he led the SEC in scoring and total offense and won the Maxwell Award as the country’s best back and was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. A member of both the pro and college halls of fame, he is one of only four UGA players to have his number (62) retired.
  3. David Pollack, DE (2001-04): After being recruited to Georgia as a fullback, Pollack became a three-time All-American as a defensive end. His most famous play is a caused-fumble and one-handed, mid-air scoop-and-score against South Carolina in the 2002 SEC championship season. He owns the Bulldogs’ record for career sacks.
  4. Jake Scott, S (1967-68): Though he played for the Bulldogs only two seasons, Scott proved to be one of their most explosive play-makers of all time. He led the SEC in interceptions both seasons and led the league in punt return yardage in 1968. He still holds the UGA record for career interceptions (16) and interception return yardage (315). He went on to a long and productive career with the Miami Dolphins and was named Super Bowl MVP in 1972.
  5. Champ Bailey, CB/WR (1996-98): Bailey proved to be one of the Bulldogs’ most versatile athletes ever. His junior season he played on both offense and defense while also playing special teams. He logged more than 100 plays in seven games and played more than 1,000 snaps that season. Was named an All-American and won the Bronko Nagurski Award in 1998.
  6. Garrison Hearst, TB (1990-92): Hearst led the Bulldogs in rushing each of his three seasons, including 1992 when he ran for 1,547 yards and scored 21 touchdowns. His 1,910 all-purpose yards that season was second-best in school history, won him the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best back and led to a third-place finish in Heisman voting.
  7. Frank Sinkwich (1940-42): Georgia’s first Heisman Trophy recipient (1942) led the Bulldogs to wins in the Orange and Rose bowls and the 1942 national championship. A member of the college football hall of fame, he rushed for 2,771 yards, passed for 2,331 yards and accounted for 60 TDs – 30 rushing and 30 passing in his career. You can’t leave off a Heisman winner.
  8. Bill Stanfill, DT (1966-68): Stanfill led Georgia to a 25-6-2 record and two SEC championships in his three seasons on the field for the Bulldogs and was team captain, All-American and Academic All-American in 1968. That same year he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best lineman. He went on to a highly-decorated NFL career with the Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins.
  9. Hines Ward, ATH (1994-97): Ward proved to be one of the most versatile offensive players of all times. During his career, he started at quarterback, tailback and wide receiver while also serving as a kick returner. He set the Georgia bowl record with 469 yards total offense (413 passing) in the 1995 Peach Bowl. He finished his career with 4,788 all-purpose yards (1,965 receiving, 1,063 rushing, 918 passing and 842 in returns).
  10. Terry Hoage, ROV (1980-83): Former Georgia coach Vince Dooley called Hoage the best defensive player he’s ever coached and “maybe the best I’ve ever seen.” The two-time All-American finished fifth in the 1983 Heisman Trophy balloting. He led the nation with 12 interceptions in 1982 and blocked a field goal against Notre Dame in Georgia’s national championship-clinching Sugar Bowl victory.

A few qualifiers: The numbers don’t reflect a ranking. It’s merely to enumerate and actually reflects the order that I committed to the respective players being on the list; I tried to pay respect to earlier generations of Georgia football but, as you might expect, the list is tilted toward modern football player; and, as you’ll note, there are a lot of truly great players not included.

Here are some that I really struggled with leaving off: CB/PR Scott Woerner, WR A.J. Green, TB Knowshon Moreno, FS Thomas Davis, QB Eric Zeier, QB David Greene, PK Kevin Butler, QB Fran Tarkenton.

So, for better or worse, that’s the list I came up with. I’d love to hear what you guys might have done differently or who you might replace with whom. And who knows, nothing is in print yet. If you can offer a convincing enough argument I might just see if we can get it changed.

Thanks for your input.

401 comments Add your comment

SBC Pastor

July 11th, 2012
6:42 am

I think Tarkenton definitely should be in the top ten, other than that, a good list!

PALM CITY DAWG

July 11th, 2012
6:48 am

First. Damn good DAWGS!!!

PALM CITY DAWG

July 11th, 2012
6:48 am

Ramad Ashad

July 11th, 2012
6:53 am

What about “Rod Ski” Hampton. He was an animal.

RHall55

July 11th, 2012
6:58 am

Note in the Top 10, only (1) player under CMR’S watchful eye: D Pollack; why? Question is? Is it the recruiting, the style of offensive or defensive schemes, the S&C program, the ability to retain players for a (4) year span. the discipline issue or what?

John Herring

July 11th, 2012
7:03 am

What? No David Greene, Matt Stinchcomb, Tarkenton, Kevin Butler but you got Pollack at 3? That’s crazy. Struggling? Struggle some more and come up with a better list. Veron Haynes, heck even Billy Bennet.

bdawg

July 11th, 2012
7:06 am

Correction: The David Pollack play against Carolina didn’t happen in the SEC Championship game (it’s impossible) but in the regular season.

Frankenton or David Greene should be on here over Pollack anyway.

Doodaddy

July 11th, 2012
7:16 am

Theron Sapp has to be on the list

padre

July 11th, 2012
7:21 am

must go 20 deep because you could add at least 8 more so close to these the difference would be indistinqishable—green tarkenton,etc

P-Man

July 11th, 2012
7:26 am

Bob McWhorter?

thenumber34

July 11th, 2012
7:29 am

Chip, you took on a tough task and did well. I think D. Greene and D. Pollack could be interchangeable on this list, but the rest are firm.

Palm City Dawg

July 11th, 2012
7:31 am

bdawg…Chip said the championship season, not the championship game.

Rick

July 11th, 2012
7:35 am

@bdawg: He didn’t say game, he said “season”. I think this list is good. Since there are only 10, it is hard to argue. There are some great ones that could easily be added. The great Ben Zambese at LB, Eddie “Meat Clever” Weaver, Will Forts, etc. I agree that it’s interesting that no players from the last few years are on it. The players that are recruited now aren’t coming to UGA to be the best Dawg they can be. Most of these “star” players are coming to bide their time until they are draft elligible. I wonder how many “stars” most of these would have had when they were recruited.

ray

July 11th, 2012
7:36 am

Herschel Walker,Fran Tarkenton,Matt Stafford,Terrell Davis,Champ Bailey,A.J. Green,Kevin Butler,Garrison Hearst,David Pollack,Hines Ward.

John Herring

July 11th, 2012
7:37 am

I’m even gonna throw out Shockley over Pollack. Coulda went anywhere but stayed and was one of the best!

SuperB

July 11th, 2012
7:44 am

A waste of time.

k483

July 11th, 2012
7:45 am

Where’s Buzzy Rosenberg?

snellville jacket

July 11th, 2012
7:50 am

Any list that does not include Fran the man is a joke

DawgInMontgy

July 11th, 2012
7:54 am

David Greene has to be on the list.

secdawgs

July 11th, 2012
7:56 am

For y’all that are saying Pollack don’t belong, you’ve got to be kidding. The only one that I think was over looked was Brandon Boykin.

chilidawg

July 11th, 2012
7:56 am

Again? How many times are we going to do this? How about we concentrate on recruiting and coaching the players who will replace some of the names on this list of the top 10?

Joey

July 11th, 2012
8:02 am

Wow Bill, I made my list and we only disagreed on one I had Edgar Chandler and you had Hines. You DO remember Chandler don’t you?

If I’m not mistaken, Edgar was Dooley’s 1st consenus All-American.

Bill

July 11th, 2012
8:02 am

Very good list, Bill. I may have included David Greene, but don’t know who I would have dropped.

D man

July 11th, 2012
8:03 am

What about Mathew Stafford. He was great too.

UGADawg83

July 11th, 2012
8:07 am

A hard job done well–of course I could argue with a name or two here or there. For instance, where are the offensive lineman and linebackers? However, in the end a good solid list of memorable players. As for those who want to gripe—go find another board or better still another school. Some of our Georgia “fans” are our worst enemies with their incessant negativity.

KeepDreaming

July 11th, 2012
8:09 am

I’m not sure why you even considered Knowshon? He didnt accomplish anything while at UGA, left early, and was(is) an NFL Bust.

No Quincy Carter?

bdawg

July 11th, 2012
8:10 am

Could’ve sworn I saw champtionship game, not season, but it was before my coffee. Sorry Chip and thanks for taking on an unenviable task.

Jim

July 11th, 2012
8:14 am

Sinkwich was not only UGA’s first Heisman winner…he was the SEC’s first Heisman winner. Good list!

JB

July 11th, 2012
8:21 am

An Honorable mention has to go to Reggie Ball on some list, maybe as all time best assit player, whata think.

godawg

July 11th, 2012
8:22 am

Eddie “Meat Cleaver” Weaver

JB

July 11th, 2012
8:26 am

There is one guy who gets little credit. Never over powering, or stat heavy, but a true blue Dawg who will be part of the most gutsy play in modern Georgia history, but Buck Blue.

JB

July 11th, 2012
8:28 am

Moon pie Wilson…….Goldberg.

anotherdawg

July 11th, 2012
8:31 am

Alot of great players and the best announcer ever!!! Still gives me chills to watch some of the old footage listening to Larry.

anotherdawg

July 11th, 2012
8:34 am

Shug

July 11th, 2012
8:34 am

Where’s Tim Crowe on this list. The best UGA d-lineman ever. A great high school baller to, for the mighty Pirates.

anotherdawg

July 11th, 2012
8:40 am

Serious??

July 11th, 2012
8:40 am

Imagine what AJ would have done with a real O CORD!!

Ed Pilcher

July 11th, 2012
8:44 am

Don’t worry about leaving Tarkenton out, Chip. He didn’t win anything in college, save that one miracle SEC championship where he drew up a play in the dirt against Auburn……He definitely didn’t win anything in the pros….3 super bowl losses with him at the helm of the Vikes…..and now, he’s just a bitter old man who blasts UGA, the football program, and the coaching staff at every opportunity. To hell with him.

Joey

July 11th, 2012
8:46 am

Lots of young Dawg fans don’t remember how great Terry Hoage was. He was UGA’s “Herschel” on defense – every bit as much a playmaker during that remarkable 4-year run. He was the main reason for the great ‘83 season (w/o Herschel), and holding #2 Texas to 9 points .

I remember UGA shutting down BYU’s high scoring offense in ‘82, and the Banner quoting QB Steve Young (yeah, that one) after the game saying, “Hoage was everywhere.” And he was – in every game – tipping passes, breaking up passes, INTs by the boatload, causing and recovering fumbles, blocking FGs and punts, as well as returning punts.

He was such a force that in the stands, I would find myself watching him, instead of the ball – it didn’t take long for him to find the ball either.

Heisman candidate, consensus All-American, and Academic All-American (major- Genetics), and played in the NFL for over a decade, mostly playing wherever Buddy Ryan (the creater of the “46″ D) coached.

Frank Lane

July 11th, 2012
8:50 am

Tarkenton for sure. Must be someone from the thirties and before also. Maybe Catfish Smith or who was the great quarterback in the late 40’s after Trippi?

Newman

July 11th, 2012
8:55 am

Tarkenton never started until his senior year. He played behind Charley Britt for two years. I would have to add Andy Johnson to the list. Erk Russell called him the best QB he ever saw…

John

July 11th, 2012
8:58 am

How bout Guy McIntyre that helped open holes for Herschel

10Dawg

July 11th, 2012
9:01 am

He was overshadowed by Herschel but Buck Belue was another star in the 1980 season. He made some key plays that made that season happen (”Lindsey Scott, Lindsey Scott, Lindsey Scott”)

gg

July 11th, 2012
9:01 am

Not disagreeing, but interesting to note not a single QB among your top 10.

In my book David Greene would be the number 1 QB in Georgia history for what the TEAM accomplished, and he kept a better QB (Shockley) on the bench because the TEAM responded so well to him.

The book isn’t closed on Jarvis Jones yet, and I think he’s poised to be knocking on this door when it is. Remember, he’s got two years of eligbility left. No telling what his accomplishments could amount to if he uses both of them!

Need to do a three-deep ALL DOG, ALL-TIME Team including kickers, special teams and even coaching staff.

old dog

July 11th, 2012
9:02 am

Hard to argue any of them…..you did good research. For us old folks, Jake Scott was one of the best ever; when a safety is the MVP of the Super Bowl, he has got to be good. I was a kid watching him and Stanfill I realized what seperated the great from the good! I saw all of them except Trippi and Sinkwich, and while there will always be arguments I once again think you did an outstanding job.

How about...

July 11th, 2012
9:02 am

…Cowboy Parrish and Moonpie Wilson?!?!?!?!?

And I definitely second the nomination of Andy Johnson, who was the UGA version of Ole Miss’ Archie Manning…

David Wilson

July 11th, 2012
9:04 am

Good list .. no arguments over anyone included or not. However, I would put QB David Greene in a category of distinction all his own. He could produce outstanding results in the most pressure-packed situations. Re: UGAs 26-24 last seconds victory over Tennessee in Knoxville. Who will ever forget seeing Veron Haynes make that catch in the checkerboard endzone and Larry Munson’s forever famous call of the play. AJC headline: Slick call rocks Vols

just a fan

July 11th, 2012
9:04 am

I think the list is pretty solid the only change I would make is take Garrison Hearst off and put David Greene on. JMHO

Go Dawgs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sic em

egeagle

July 11th, 2012
9:05 am

Good list, but here are some O-linemen who could use a little love. Ray Donaldson, Guy McIntyre, Royce Smith, and Len Hauss. S[ec Towns and Edgar Chandler from long ago. This is a tough task

DAWG ONE

July 11th, 2012
9:08 am

So many names to consider. Bob McWhorter, Fran Tarkenton for sure. Others like Johnny Rauch, and Terry Hoage, John Stinchcomb, Theron Sapp and the list goes on. I would say at 20 you could get a pretty good representation.