Georgia Football is one of the most storied and prestigious programs in all of college athletics. Many of the greatest players in college football history have played their home games in Athens, so many that it’s difficult to narrow it down to just five. That is, except for the player who definitively earned the top spot, Herschel Walker.
Although a somewhat controversial figure now, no player is more synonymous with Georgia football than Walker. The legendary running back holds nearly every rushing record in school history, which is all the more impressive considering how many great have worn the red and black. With Walker leading the way, the Bulldogs won three SEC titles and the 1980 national championship, the second in school history.
While Walker is the clear choice at No. 1, the rest of the list wasn’t as easy. Many older players like Fran Tarkenton have a strong case to make the list, as do modern players like Nick Chubb. Some current Bulldogs such as Brock Bowers may find themselves on this list one day.
With that said, here are the top five Georgia football players of all time.
5. DB Champ Bailey, 1996-1998
NFL fans know Champ Bailey for being one of the league’s best cornerbacks ever, and he did much of the same at Georgia. In three seasons, Bailey recorded 147 tackles, 27 passes defended, and eight interceptions. In 1998, Bailey earned All-American honors and became the first and only player in school history to win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the best defensive player in the country.
However, Bailey wasn’t just a force on defense, but in all three phases of the game. As a wide receiver, he racked up 978 yards and five touchdowns in his final two seasons, and even occasionally ran the ball. He also handled kick returns on occasion, recording over 500 return yards.
Earlier in 2022, Bailey was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
4. RB Charley Trippi, 1942-46
Charley Trippi is one of many outstanding running backs to play in Athens. He made his collegiate debut in 1942 when he ran for 787 yards and six touchdowns and threw for 602 yards and five touchdowns. With Trippi leading the way, the Bulldogs won the Rose Bowl 9-0 over UCLA to claim their first national championship.
Trippi missed the 1943 and 1944 seasons due to military service but came back even better. Despite missing five games in 1945, Trippi still ran for nine touchdowns and threw for three. Then in 1946, he racked up 13 total touchdowns over 1,600 total yards to finish second in Heisman voting.
3. RB Frank Sinkwich, 1940-1942
Frank Sinkwich was the first of Georgia’s superstar running backs, but he did so much more than that. In 1941, Sinkwich led the country with 1,103 rushing yards, already a great start to his career. However, his 1942 season is what truly made him a legend.
Sinkwich set a then-NCAA record with 2,187 yards of total offense in 1942. He was a threat on the ground and through the air, leading Georgia to its first national championship. Additionally, he became the first SEC player to ever win the Heisman.
Even 80 years later, Sinkwich still has his place in the Georgia record books. He scored 60 career touchdowns, 30 rushing and 30 passing, to rank sixth in school history. Considering there’s a 50-year gap between Sinkwich and anyone above him, his career will always be legendary.
2. DL David Pollack, 2001-2004
David Pollack is without a doubt the best defensive player in Georgia history. Additionally, the current College Gameday personality was one of the top sack artists in the history of the sport. His 36 career sacks are not just the most in Georgia history, but the third-most in NCAA history as well.
Pollack first burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2002, when he set a school single-season record with 14 sacks. He then followed that up with 9.5 sacks in 2003 and 12.5 in 2004. During this time, Georgia finished in the top 10 all three seasons and won the SEC in 2002.
Additionally, Pollack’s trophy case could make anyone envious. He was a three-time All-American, won the Ted Hendricks Award twice and won the Chuck Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award and Lott Trophy in 2004. Even with all the amazing Georgia defenders in recent years, no one could match Pollack’s accolades.
1. RB Herschel Walker, 1980-1982
Herschel Walker is not only the greatest player in Georgia football history, but arguably the greatest in college football history too. His college stats are absolutely absurd, with over 1,600 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in each season. Walker finished his stellar career with 5,259 rushing yards and 49 touchdowns, and recorded 243 receiving yards and four touchdowns for good measure.
Walker also has the hardware to back up his accomplishments. He won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Award in 1982, and was a unanimous All-American and SEC Player of the Year in all three seasons. It’s hard to imagine any Georgia player coming close to his accolades.