A Day Many Dawgs Will Never Forget

Patrick GarbinContributor INovember 16, 2009

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 19:  Defensive tackle Jeff Owens #95 of the Georgia Bulldogs drops back into coverage against the Kentucky Wildcats at Sanford Stadium on November 19, 2005 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

During halftime of the Georgia-Auburn game, where the Bulldogs trailed 14-7, Georgia's Jeff Owens reportedly told the team that the game and the season were far from being over. The senior defensive tackle added that the following Saturday against Kentucky would be his last time playing in Sanford Stadium and the Bulldogs needed to finish strong and win the final two home games of the year.

Owens and his teammates responded with a 31-24 victory over the Tigers.  Let's see if they can finish the drill this Saturday night against the Wildcats.

Owens' speech to his fellow Bulldogs reminds me that Saturday is Senior Day at Sanford Stadium, and Owens, along with a group of others, will be making their final appearance between the hedges.

For the past six seasons, whenever I have attended Georgia football's annual Senior Day, I'm reminded of an occasion that I and many other Dawg fans will never forget.

There are many lasting memories from Georgia’s 2002 season, namely, David Pollack’s interception for a touchdown against South Carolina, “man enough” to beat Alabama, David Greene’s touchdown pass to Michael Johnson to defeat Auburn, and winning the SEC Championship Game and the Sugar Bowl, to name a few.

Personally, a memorable event from that season that ranks highly in my mind was David Jacob’s appearance against Georgia Tech on Senior Day.

Jacobs, a defensive lineman from Atlanta, started a combined seven games at Georgia as a freshman and sophomore in 1999 and 2000.  In 2001, he started the first eight games of the season at nose tackle and recorded 55 tackles, 10 for losses, and led the team with 21 quarterback pressures.

Following Georgia’s eighth game of the season against Auburn, Jacobs was hospitalized with severe headaches and dizziness.  It was later learned he had suffered a stroke, leaving him with impaired speech and partial paralysis on the right side of his body.

Donations poured in to help Jacobs with hospital costs while a fund was also established by the Georgia Athletic Association; however, the young 22-year old’s football career was unfortunately finished.

David Jacobs’ last appearance in a Georgia uniform was not against Auburn in 2001 when he first complained of dehydration that ultimately led to his stroke. It came over a year later on Nov. 30, 2002, when he was the last of Georgia’s 22 seniors to be announced during Senior Day ceremonies.

In full uniform, Jacobs ran out from the east side of Sanford Stadium with arms raised and his helmet held overhead.

As the crowd cheered, many with tears in their eyes, Jacobs sprinted into the arms of his awaiting grandparents—an everlasting memory from a memorable 2002 season.