Georgia's greatest football players
The top three pillars of the program are in the video above -- now check out who just missed the cut ...
Judging by their history, the Georgia Bulldogs may be the home for college football’s elite athletes. It seems like an obvious statement, that football players would be athletes, but these Bulldogs could do it all. It wasn’t their versatility that set them apart, but how flawless and effortless these athletes made it seem when on the football field. What may be most impressive is that these Georgia players were the rare athletes who could excel in nearly any decade of college football, which set them above the rest.
Running Back | 1980-82
♦ Three-time All-American (1980-82)
♦ Won the Heisman Trophy in 1982
Linebacker | 2001-04
♦ School record 36 sacks
♦ Three-time All-American (2002-04)
Fullback | 1941-42
♦ Won the Heisman Trophy in 1942
♦ 29 TDs (17 rush, 10 pass) in 1942
Cornerback | 1996-98
♦ Consensus All-American (1998)
♦ Averaged 103.5 all-purpose yds./gm
Quarterback | 2001-04
♦ Passed for 72 touchdowns
♦ Career: 11,528 yds., 32 INT
Safety | 1966-68
♦ Holds UGA record for career INTs
♦ Consensus All-American (1968)
Quarterback | 1958-60
♦ College Football HOF (1987)
♦ Led team to SEC title in 1959
HB/QB | 1941-43, 45-46
♦ Led 1946 team to unbeaten season
♦ 1946 Maxwell Award winner
Athletes like Champ Bailey make it lamentable that football has converted into such a specialized sport. In today’s age, a guy playing a role -- and a very productive role at that -- on offense, defense and special teams would be denounced for his lack of commitment to one position on the team. At the very least, Bailey would be considered a gimmick.
Which is far from the reality. It was an open debate whether his services were better utilized on offense and defense, and both sides had a point. His stats his senior season at Georgia are absurd: 52 tackles, three interceptions, seven passes defensed, 47 receptions for 744 yards, five touchdowns and 84 rushing yards. Plus, let’s not forget the 12 kickoff returns for 261 yards and four punt returns for 49 yards.
“We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose. We just crushed their face!” screamed legendary Georgia radio announcer Larry Munson, describing the moment when David Greene improbably led Georgia down the field with 44 seconds to defeat Tennessee 26-24. And so the Georgian legend of Greene was born.
Greene executed that victory against then-No. 5 Tennessee as a redshirt freshman. During his time as a Bulldog, he set records as the winningest quarterback in Division I history (42 wins) and was the SEC’s all-time leader in career yards gained (11,270), until those marks were broken by Texas’ Colt McCoy and Georgia’s Aaron Murray, respectively.
It’s a fun thought experiment to consider if elite college football players of the past could hang once the game turned modern. Would Joe Namath start over A.J. McCarron at Alabama during the Crimson Tide’s recent reign? How much playing time would Ron Sellers or Fred Biletnikoff get on Florida State’s 2013 national championship team? But with Jake Scott, there is no question; he could hang in the current era.
Watching old highlights of Scott, his athleticism jumps out for a guy playing college football in 1968. He could leap and snag a one-handed interception or jump-cut and weave through tacklers on a punt return like athletes of nowadays. He holds Georgia school records for career interceptions (16) and interception return yards (315) in his two eligible years and is behind only Georgia great Terry Hoage for single season records in both categories.
Plus, he once rode his motorcycle over Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum, which qualifies him as a legend in more ways than one.
Here’s a story: Georgia was down 7-0 in the 4th quarter against Texas in its season opener and just received the ball on the 5-yard line. Fran Tarkenton was listed as Georgia’s third-string quarterback and his coaches’ plan was to redshirt him for the year. Tarkenton had different plans. Noticing starter Charlie Britt sitting on the sidelines when the offense ran onto the field, Tarkenton rushed onto the field and marched the Bulldogs 95 yards in 21 plays. His coaches were as stunned as he was.
They sent on the kicking team for the extra point, but Tarkenton waived them off, electing to go for the two-point conversion, a new rule just instituted that year. He hit a 5-yard pass and converted one of the first 2-point conversions successfully. Texas would respond with a drive of their own and win the game, but that’s when Tarkenton’s legend was born.
Charley Trippi is regarded by many Georgia fans with the same tone reserved for Herschel Walker, David Pollack and the likes. He was part of Georgia’s 1942 national championship team led by fellow Georgia legend Frank Sinkwich, but his Bulldog career was interrupted by a brief interlude with World War II.
Trippi would return and play as a mix between halfback and quarterback like Sinkwich before him and he would become a two-time All-American. As a senior, Trippi won the Maxwell Award as the country's best back and was the runner-up to the Heisman.