The Top 10 Greatest UGA Football Players of All Time
So many great players of college football came from Athens Georgia. Some became all stars and even hall of famers in the NFL. Georgia has a very rich history when it comes to the NFL with well over 100 total players drafted, including three Super Bowl MVP’s (current NCAA record).
UGA has produced more NFL players than any other college besides Miami and has had numerous pro bowlers. From the great Kevin Butler to Knowshon Moreno, Georgia has produced very talented players.
The list was hard to compile. But here is my top 10 Georgia players of all time. Some of the names may raise eyebrows but others are widely considered some of the greatest.
No. 10 Champ Bailey
Before he became an NFL Pro Bowler with Washington and Denver, Champ Bailey was a Bulldog great. Bailey played for Georgia from 1997-1999. He graduated as a junior and was drafted by the Redskins.
Champ Bailey was called a triple threat because he could play great on defense, offense, and special teams. In his junior season alone, Bailey recorded 51 tackles and four for losses. He also had three interceptions, 47 catches for 744 yards, five touchdowns, 84 yards rushing on 16 carries, 12 kickoff returns for 261 yards and four punt returns for 49 yards.
He averaged 103.5 all-purpose yards per game and logged 957 plays. These stats helped him to win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s top defensive player. He was also on the All-America and All-SEC first team.
Aside from football,Bailey also set a school indoor long jump record in 1998 of 25' 10-3/4" to finish third at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships.
No. 9 Knowshon Moreno
It was a warm sunny day in Jacksonville, Florida as the 20th ranked Georgia Bulldogs took on the ninth ranked defending champions, the Florida Gators.
Moreno jumps into the end zone and a huge party breaks out with the entire team dancing. It was Knowshon Moreno's break out game.
Knowshon thrashed the Florida defense by running past them and jumping over the line for the first T.D of the game. From there on Knowshon was considered one of the best players in the country. He became a driving force that helped Georgia earn a No. 2 final ranking.
2008 made Knowshon look even better as Georgia was No. 1 coming into the start of the season. The second game got even more people talking as Knowshon did more than just pile up yards and stats. It was 3rd-and-long and Moreno was about to shock everyone in the stadium.
Knowshon was handed the ball and made a huge run for a first down but he kept on going until he ran into a Central Michigan player. However, instead of trying to juke or break a tackle, Moreno jumped over the player and gained even more yards after that.
The play even caused controversy among Georgia fans, Mark Richt, and ESPN. No matter how much hate Georgia fans had towards ESPN, Knowshon would still make the highlight reel multiple times. Even though major injuries caused Georgia to fall apart later on, Knowshon's stock kept on rising and earned him the number nine spot on this list.
No. 8 Matthew Stafford
The year was 2006. The game Georgia vs. Auburn. The freshmen QB, Matthew Stafford, was starting for Georgia to take on a powerfully ranked fifth place Auburn team. Georgia stunned Auburn by beating them 37-15 and ruining their national championship run.
Stafford cemented his Bulldog legacy after that game. He went from being a backup freshman to the most talked about sophomore coming into the 2007 season. After the Florida game, Stafford would be known as one of the best if not the best QB in the nation.
The start of the 2008 season had Georgia ranked number one and Stafford as the most popular name for the draft. While he was not as consistent as some would have liked, he still had a cannon arm that rivaled even some of the NFL quarterbacks.
Stafford went to become the top draft pick with the Lions.
No. 7 Jake Scott
Jake Scott was known not just for his MVP performance in the Super Bowl for the Dolphins, but also as one of the best safeties in college football during the late 60's.
In 1967 Scott led Georgia with six interceptions and was a dominant force on the defensive side.
In 1968 Scott led Georgia once again in interceptions with ten total. That put him at second just behind Terry Horage who had 15 in 1982. The 1968 team was an even better defensive team and was voted national champs in one nationally recognized poll.
No. 6 Charley Trippi
Charley Trippi was mostly known for his great skills at the NFL level like Champ Bailey but he was also on Georgia's 1942 and 1946 national championship teams.
Trippi was a two time All-American with Georgia and was known as one of the Georgia greats being introduced to the Georgia Sports Hall Of Fame.
In his 1946 season Trippi won the Maxwell award for the best running back in the country. He was also named the MVP of the 1943 Rose Bowl with a 9-0 win over UCLA for a national championship.
His college season was interrupted by WWII so he was forced to finish his career as a Bulldog in 1945-1946.
No. 5 Fran Tarkenton
Tarkenton enrolled at Georgia in 1957 and was a quick success in Athens. In a time when colleges still had Freshman teams, Tarkenton helped his Freshman squad go undefeated.
Tarkenton was an All-SEC sophomore team selection in 1958 and was an integral player in the Georgia Bulldogs' SEC championship in 1959. He led a powerful offensive team and was sometimes nicknamed "Tarkenton's Raiders" and "Tarkenton's Music Makers."
He led the SEC in passing completions and set a conference record for completion percentage in 1959, earning him All-SEC quarterback honors.
He was also able to get an Orange Bowl win against Missouri on New Year's Day in 1960.
In his senior season Tarkenton led the SEC in passing, which gave him the honors of being an All-American. In addition to being a great player, he was also an Academic All-American.
No. 4 David Greene
You could ask what David Greene did at Georgia, but an easier question would be what he didn't do for Georgia. While he never won a national title or Heisman trophy he did bring Georgia back from the grave to win their first SEC title in 20 years.
David was a redshirt freshman in 2001 and was a part of an instant classic game vs. fifth ranked Tennessee. With 44 seconds left, Greene scanned the end zone and sent a bullet to a wide open Verron Haynes for the upset. The play became to be known as the "Hobnail Boot Play." It was aptly named after Larry Munson said "We just stepped on their faces with a hobnail boot..."
In 2002 David Greene led Georgia to a 10-1 regular season record. Greene's success at Georgia spaked the beginning of Georgia's great success later in the decade. Greene also claimed the record for the winning-est quarterback in College Football Division 1 history until it was broken by Colt McCoy in 2009.
In addition to all this he was named the SEC freshman of the year in 2001; he was also on the Second-team All-SEC in 2003 and 2004. He was also a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award for most outstanding senior quarterback.
No. 3 David Pollack
If David Greene was the head of the offense then David Pollack had to be the head of the Defense. Pollack was simply amazing and was on the All-Time SEC team created by ESPN in 2007.
Pollack was unstoppable and put fear into every quarterback he faced off against. His best and most memorable play came in 2002 vs. South Carolina. The Gamecocks were backed into their own end zone. Pollack managed to strip the ball right out the quarterback's hands for a touchdown.
Not only was Pollack a major fear for quarterbacks but he also won numerous awards. In 2002 he won the SEC player of the year award and was an All-American. In 2004 he won the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Ted Hendricks Award, Lombardi Award, and the Lott Trophy.
Pollack also won the Ted Hendricks award in 2003; he also was the second player in school history to be an All-American three straight years. (2002, 2003, 2004)
No. 2 Frank Sinkwich
Sinkwich was the first Bulldog to win the Heisman, lead Georgia to a national title, and be introduced to the college football hall of fame in 1954.
Sinkwich would be the Herschel Walker of his time and is known to be one of the greatest college football players of all time. In 1941 he led the nation in rushing yards with 1,103 yards on 209 carries. Sinkwich was also a two time All-American and got Georgia their first national title in 1942.
In his three-year college career, Sinkwich rushed for 2,271 yards, passed for 2,331 yards, and accounted for 60 touchdowns(30 rushing and 30 passing). During his senior year of 1942, Sinkwich set the NCAA single-season total offense record of 2,187 yards.
Sinkwich would end up playing for Detroit and become an instant pro earning All-Pro honors in 1943-1944. However Sinkwhich's career came to a tragic end after a knee injury in 1945 ended his playing career.
No.1 Herschel Walker
What needs to be said about the greatest Bulldog ever, Walker was an absolute beast of a player and is recognized by many as greatest college football player of all time. Walker was ranked the number three greatest player of all time and ranked number one by Rivals and SEC sports.com.
Walker had many great plays from his freshmen year. The most memorable was the game versus Tennessee when Walker literally ran over Bill Bates. The play was known as "My God a freshman!!!" The call once again came from Larry Munson. Hershel would finish third in the Heisman voting and got Georgia their third national title in 1980.
Walker made the game safe for freshmen as they were no longer ignored for Varsity squads. All the greats that would start their freshmen year can probably thank Herschel for that.
Walker was also able to turn around a falling Georgia football program. He accounted for the most Touchdowns in the SEC all time in just three years back when there were not as many games to play. Unlike now, there were only 12 total games back then. At the time there were no championship games for conferences.
Herschel will be known as the greatest Bulldog ever and no one could ever be as good or as famous as Walker. The things he did not just for Georgia but for college could never outdone and that is why he is number one at my list.
Honorable Mention Lindsay Scott
This Georgia great is more known for one single play than any thing else. Scott was a hell of receiver but being in Walker's shadow (like every other player) did not help at all. But Scott would prove himself in the 1980 match up vs. Florida.
Georgia's chance for a national championship was fading fast trailing Florida 21-20 with only a minute left; to make matters worse, Georgia was on their own nine.
Buck Beule the quarter back would just barely get the pass off to Scott at the 25 yard line. Scott would fly down the sideline for a TD and a 26-21 win.
This play was once again famous for Munson's call. "Florida in a stand-up five, they may or may not blitz, they won't... Buck back, third down on the eight. In trouble! Got a block behind him... Gonna throw on the run---complete on the 25. To the 30, Lindsay Scott 35, 40, Lindsay Scott 45, 50, 45, 40--Run, Lindsay!--25, 20, 15, 10, 5, Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott!!"
Honorable Mention Hines Ward
Hines, another great Bulldog, was one of the best Bulldogs of the 90's. Ward could pretty much do it all. Rushing and Receiving came pretty naturally to him. Ward's 149 career receptions for 1,965 yards placed him second in team history.
As a running back he totaled 3,870 all-purpose yards, second only to Herschel Walker in Bulldogs history. In 1996, Hines had 52 receptions for 900 yards, and also ran 26 times for 170 yards. In 1997, Hines hauled in 55 passes and scored six TDs, getting All-SEC honors in the process.
Ward was also known for his quarter back abilities holding the Georgia records for Pass Attempts, Pass Completions, and Passing Yards in a bowl game, from the 1995 Peach Bowl in which he completed 31 of 59 passes for 413 yards.
Ward would later find out he was missing an ACL he lost during a childhood biking accident. This would still not effect him as Ward would become the MVP of Super Bowl XL.
Honorable Mention Kevin Butler
Butler is noted as one of the best kickers in college football history. Butler placekicked 77 field goals and 122 extra points, a total of 353 points. His accuracy on attempts 50 yards or longer, 52.4 percent, was an NCAA record.
In his four years at Georgia he had a 38-8-2 record, was in two Sugar Bowls, one Cotton Bowl Classic, and one Citrus Bowl. His best and most memorable play was a field goal that was 60 yards against Clemson in 1984.
Butler also became the first kicker to be introduced into the college football hall of fame.
Honorable Mention Terrell Davis
Originally a player for Long Beach State, Davis was a redshirt in his freshmen season. The next year he would end up rushing for 262 yards on 55 carries. Long Beach State would shut down their football program so Davis would have to choose another college, that college was Georgia.
His first year at Georgia Davis backed up Garrison Hearst, who was one of the leading rushers in college football. After Hearst graduated, Davis became the top running back during the 1993 season, and rushed for 824 yards on 167 carries
Davis's senior season was disrupted by a hamstring injury which sidelined him for three games. Davis would end up only getting 445 yards on 67 carries that year, but in his last two games, he rushed for 113 and 121 yard.
In the NFL Davis would be drafted by Denver and win the MVP award during Super Bowl XXXII.