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Counting the Days – Day 23

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No. 23s (L to R) DICK HARTLEY pictured about to cross Harvard's goal line in 1921; TIM JENNINGS during the 2005 SEC title game; and, JAMES EUNICE, whose jersey is being held by brother, John.

We are more than three quarters the way through our countdown! Each day leading up to the season opener, Patrick Garbin and I will each show three unique and creative ways why we think that number is special to the Dawgs. The Number 23 starring Jim Carrey was released in 2007. It is listed as a psychological thriller, but it did not fare too well. In fact, Carrey was nominated for the “Golden Raspberry Award” that year for worst actor in film. He ended up losing to Eddie Murphy for his role in Norbit; therefore, does this make Carrey a winner or loser for his role in The Number 23? Something that cannot be questioned is the fact that Georgia football is a winner in regards to its history and tradition, including these moments and players relating to the number “23”:

By Dave McMahon—Twitter @dave_mc_stats

3 – No. 23 Tim Jennings might be short, but he played real big. The 5-foot-8 cornerback from Orangeburg, South Carolina, totaled 170 tackles from 2002 to 2005 and ten interceptions, including two he returned for touchdowns. His first Pick 6 resulted during his freshman season, when he returned an errant pass thrown by Ole Miss’ Eli Manning 64 yards for a score. During his senior season in the SEC Championship Game against LSU, he intercepted a Matt Flynn pass and scored from 15 yards out. Also against the Tigers, Jennings recorded the only sack of his Georgia career.

2 – Another short player for the Dawgs fairly recently was 5-foot-8 tailback Thomas Brown (ironically, Tim Jennings’ high school coach was a “Tommy Brown”). Anyway, Thomas Brown rushed for 23 touchdowns in his Georgia career, including a career-high 10 in 2007. That same season, he split time in the backfield with Knowshon Moreno. In fact, Brown was never a full-time back for Georgia. Moreno, Michael Cooper, Danny Ware, and Kregg Lumpkin took many carries from him. Accomplished at Kentucky in 2004 and in Athens against Ole Miss in 2007, the most touchdowns Brown ever rushed for in a game was three.

1 – One superstar the Bulldogs featured recently, who is still dominating in the pros, is wide receiver A.J. Green. At Georgia, Green had 23 touchdown receptions in 32 career games. Scoring eight, six, and nine touchdown receptions, respectively, from 2008 to 2010, his 23 career scores via receiving ranks second all time at the school. Green achieved multiple touchdown reception games on four occasions. He was named the SEC Freshman of the Year by the SEC coaches in 2008, and was a Biletnikoff Award semi-finalist in 2009 and 2010.

By Patrick Garbin—Twitter @PGarbinDT

3—Before he was UGA’s athletic director from 2004 until entangled six years later in scandal we won’t rehash, Damon Evans was a receiver for the Bulldogs in the late 1980s-early 1990s. Considered one of the state’s top 10-to-15 prospects coming out of Gainesville High School in 1988, the 6-foot-3 wideout was redshirted as a freshman, followed by seeing limited action in 1989. Appearing in nearly all of Georgia’s games, including making six starts, from 1990 through 1992, Evans made 23 career receptions for 260 yards. Here’s a couple of his 23 catches I stumbled upon:

2—Donning No. 23 from 1919 to 1921, or shortly after Georgia introduced wearing numerals on its football jerseys, Dick Hartley was a star halfback for the Red and Black. A standout member of Georgia’s 8-0-1 S.I.A.A. championship squad of 1920—the second of just three UGA football teams in history to finish undefeated—Hartley scored a team-high 11 touchdowns that season, or nearly twice as many as the teammate with the second most. Eight of his 11 touchdowns covered more than 35 yards, including a 92-yard kickoff return and a 75-yard run on consecutive touches by Hartley resulting in less than a minute against South Carolina. In a 10-7 loss at Harvard in 1921—which is likely, if there is such a thing, the greatest moral victory in Georgia history—Hartley scored a touchdown against the Crimson, marking not only the first score Harvard had surrendered in seven games dating back to the previous season, but the first time a southern player ever crossed the Crimson’s goal line.

1—In January 2011, or roughly just a month after being admitted into the University of Georgia, 17-year-old James Eunice drowned while duck hunting. A wide receiver and kickoff/punt returner at Valdosta High School, he was planning to walk on at Georgia, joining Wildcat teammates Malcolm Mitchell and Jay Rome as true freshmen, before his untimely passing. At Eunice’s funeral, Mitchell and Rome presented the family with a Georgia No. 23 jersey—James’ jersey number at Valdosta—that Mark Richt had sent. Richt also had sent a note, which a pastor read aloud, ending with the head coach stating, “Oh yeah, James made the team.” No. 23 James Eunice was listed on Georgia’s 2011 roster and, hosting South Carolina in Athens that season, players wore a black “No. 23” decal on the back of their helmets with the initials “J.E.” (Do yourself a favor, and watch this video of the Valdosta Wildcats’ tribute to James.)

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