SEVEN BEST BULLDOG RUNNINGBACKS
In the modern day era the University of Georgia has been endowed with some outstanding running backs.
In selecting the BEST of these backs, I had to leave off some that could have been just as good, but may not have met the statisical level of those chosen.
I do not argue for one moment that Herschel walker was the best running back The Dawgs ever had. I also do not try to hide the fact that I still harbor some ill feelings that Herschel took the Crump millions and left the team a year early.
My earliest favorite running back for Georgia was Bobby Garrard way back in 1955. Fullback and team captain Knox Culpepper, Carl Manning and George Whittimore were the backfield in 1956. I can never forget George Guisler, Kent Lawrence, Fred Brown, Bill Godfrey, Bobby Walden, Bill McKenney, Fred Barber, Jimmy Poulis, Kevin McLee, Willie McClendon, Steve Kelly, and Gliding' Glynn Harrison before the Walker era popped up in 1980.
Of course, you can't talk about any Dawg running back without including "the man who broke the drought," Theron Sapp back in 1957.
Georgia continues to have outstanding running backs. They can answer to the name "Tailback U' as quickly as any college team out there.
Are there more on the way? Probably! Hopefully one will step up in the 2010 season.
Now let's take a look at my TOP SEVEN all-time Bulldog backs.
Lars Tate was tailback from 1984 to 1987 and rushed for a career total of 3,017 rushing yards.
Tate was more of a power back, leading the Dawgs to an overall record of 31-14-3, a 1-2 record in bowl games, and a 5-7 record against the Big Four.
Tate was a member of two All-SEC teams and is in the top five of the Georgia record book in seven categories:
1) Rushes in a career - 615
2) Rushing yards in a career - 3,017
3) Rushing touchdowns in a season - 16
4) Rushing touchdowns in a career - 36
5) Total touchdowns in a season - 17
6) Total touchdowns in a career - 37
7) 200 yard rushing games - 1
Rodney Hampton is special because he was the last tailback under Coach Dooley. Hampton was tailback from 1987 to 1989 and rushed for a career total of 2668 yards.
Georgia's overall record while Hampton was in the backfield was 24-12, a 2-1 record in bowls, and a 6-5 record against the Big Four.
Hampton made two All-SEC teams and is in the top five in the Georgia record books in seven categories:
1) Rushing yards in a career - 2668
2) Rushing yards per game in a career - 86.1
3) Average yards per rush in a season - 7.06
4) 200 yard rushing games in a career - 1
5) 100 yard rushing games in a career - 12
6) All-purpose yards in a game - 270
7) All-purpose yards in a career - 3582
Knowshon Moreno is No. 4 on my list because if he would have stayed, he would have challenged some of the untouchable Georgia records. Moreno was the tailback from 2007 to 2008 and rushed for a career total of 2734 yards.
Moreno was a member of the 2008 All-American team and made two All-SEC teams. He led the Dawgs to an overall record of 21-5, a 2-0 record in bowls, and a 5-3 record against the Big Four.
Moreno's 100 mph style rushed him into the top five in the Georgia record book in 11 categories:
1) Rushes per game - 19.2
2) Rushing yards in a season - 1400
3) Rushing yards in a career - 2734
4) 1,000 yard seasons - 2
5) Rushing yards a game in a career - 105.2
6) Rushing touchdowns in a season - 16
7) Rushing touchdowns in a career - 30
8) Total touchdowns in a season - 18
9) Total touchdowns in a career - 32
10) Average yards per rush for a season - 5.6 and 5.38
11) 100 yard rushing games - 13
Frank Sinkwich is one of the beloved Dawgs. He was in the backfield from 1940 to 1942, winning the school's first National Championship in 1942. They won the SEC championship that same year.
Sinkwich was a two-time All-American and a two-time All-SEC team member. He led the Dawgs to an overall record of 25-6-2, a 1-2 record in bowls, and a 7-2 record against the Big Four.
Sinkwich made the top five in the Georgia record books in three categories:
1) Rushing touchdowns in a season - 16
2) Average gain per rush in a season - 5.28
3) Total touchdowns in a season - 17
Garrison Hearst was tailback at Georgia from 1990 to 1992 and rushed for a total of 3232 rushing yards in his career.
Hearst made the 1992 All-American team and two All-SEC teams. He lead the Dawgs to an overall record of 23-12, a 2-0 in bowl games, and a 4-6 record against the Big Four.
Hearst holds one SEC and Georgia record:
1) Rushing Touchdowns in a single season - 19
He is also in the top five in the Georgia record books in 14 categories:
1) Rushes in a career - 543
2) Rushing yards in a single season - 1594
3) Rushing yards in a single game - 246
4) Rushing yards in a career - 3232
5) Rushing yards per game in a season - 140.6
6) Rushing yards per game in a career - 97.9
7) Rushing touchdowns in a career - 33
8) Total touchdowns in a career - 35
9) Total touchdowns in a season - 21
10) Average per rush in a season - 6.79
11) Average per rush in a career - 5.95
12) All-purpose yards in a game - 270
13) 200 yard rushing games - 1
14) 100 yard rushing games - 16
Herschel Walker led Georgia to three SEC titles and the 1980 National title. He was a member of three All-American and three All-SEC teams. He rushed for a total of 5259 rushing yards in his career and won the 1982 Heisman trophy.
He led the Dawgs to an overall record of 33-3, a 1-2 record in bowl games, and a perfect 11-0 against the Big Four.
Herschel still holds 11 SEC records and numerous Georgia records. His records include:
1) Rushing yards in a single season - 1891
2) Rushes in a game - 47
3) Rushes in a season - 385
4) Rushes in a career - 994
5) Rushing yards in a career - 5259
6) Rushing yards per game in a season - 171.9
7) Rushing yards per game in a career - 159.4
8) Rushes per game in a season - 35
9) Rushes per game in a career - 30.1
10) Rushing touchdowns in a career - 49
11) Total touchdowns in a career - 52
12) 200 yard rushing games - 9
13) 100 yard rushing games - 28
The process of selecting the University of Georgia's top athlete of the century wasn't very complicated.
Because there were thousands of outstanding people who performed on the athletic fields of Athens, the Southeastern Conference and the nation while representing the university, no one carried a legendary aura on his broad shoulders and backed it up quite the way Herschel Walker did as a Bulldog.
When the topic for this special section was discussed with fans, alumni and school officials, about 25 names were mentioned as potential Top 10 candidates, including the likes of Charley Trippi, Frank Sinkwich, Bob McWhorter, Dominique Wilkins, Spec Towns, Teresa Edwards and Fran Tarkenton.
But while all of the above were missing from some people's lists, no one failed to pay homage to No. 34, the muscular running back from Wrightsville.
When Georgia athletic director and legendary coach Vince Dooley, who signed him to a scholarship, was informed of Walker's selection as the school's top athlete, the first two words out of his mouth were: ''Good choice.''
Walker - who took Georgia and the nation by storm as a freshman in 1980 - still remains synonymous with the school that he helped lead to an undefeated season and a national college football championship nearly 20 years ago.
''There have been better runners with starts and stops,'' Dooley said. ''He didn't have the cutting ability of someone like a Rodney Hampton. If he did, he would be the greatest running back who ever lived.
''And there has never been a runner who was great in the three categories of size, speed and mental toughness. He had world-class speed. Oh, was he big and strong, and I've never seen someone with the self-discipline he had.''
From 1980-82, Walker established 11 NCAA, 16 SEC and 41 school records, including UGA marks for most rushing yards in a game (283 against Vanderbilt on Oct. 18, 1980), a season (1,891 in 1981) and a career (5,259). His three-year total is still the best ever by a college runner.
Dooley believes if Walker stayed for his senior season in Athens, he would have elevated the record to a nearly unreachable level.
''If he stayed for his senior year, he would have broken Dorsett's record in the fourth game of the season,'' Dooley said. ''And who knows where he would have ended up.''
But Walker meant more than mere numbers to Bulldog fans.
His presence, beginning when he ran over Tennessee's Bill Bates in a 16-15 win in his first collegiate game, was the key ingredient in the school's magic carpet ride of 12 straight victories that culminated in a national championship following a 17-10 win over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.
''My top moment in sports is about Georgia my freshman year,'' Walker said. ''We won the national championship and people didn't consider us to be a team that could win anything, but we stayed together as a team.
Walker's three-year stint in Athens was the most successful in the school's 108-year football history. The Bulldogs won three straight SEC titles, compiled a 33-3 record and finished no lower than sixth in the national rankings. The school's only regular-season loss during Walker's career was a 13-3 setback at Clemson on Sept. 19, 1981.
Georgia fans were disheartened that New Year's Day in 1943. Their Bulldogs were about to meet UCLA in the Rose Bowl - with an injured All-America halfback Frank Sinkwich. In his place, unknown sophomore Charley Trippi would get his first varsity start. The rookie was magnificent, leading Georgia to a 9-0 victory and claiming the game's MVP honors. Trippi had taken his first steps toward greatness. Although World War II would delay his progress, Charley returned to Georgia for the 1945 and 1946 seasons, quickly picking up where he had left off. He led the Bulldogs to an 8-2 record in 1945 and broke the Oil Bowl wide open with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns that produced a 20-6 victory over Tulsa. He threw to John Donaldson for one score, then ran 68 yards for another TD. The next season, after captaining Georgia through a perfect 10-game regular season, Trippi won the Sugar Bowl for the Bulldogs when he completed a touchdown pass to Dan Edwards, clinching a 20-10 triumph over North Carolina. Following graduation, Charley signed a four-year, $100,000 professional contract with the Chicago Cardinals. Up to that time, only the immortal Red Grange had been paid more.