Mount Rushmore of UGA DEs and OLBs
By Dave McMahon and Patrick Garbin
A year ago, we delivered our “Counting the Days” series—an example. This summer, we explore a topic that has been debated on The Dawgvent for years and years. Twice a week leading into fall camp, we will post the UGA’s Mount Rushmore of… series, whereby we each present our opinion of the top four Bulldogs representing each positional unit. Whether statistics, big plays, championships won, and/or something else, we have our reasons why these quartets of Bulldogs have been chosen.
Do you agree with today’s Mount Rushmore of UGA Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers? Who would you put on your list?
Dave McMahon—Twitter @dave_mc_stats
Freddie Gilbert (1980-83): Freddie Gilbert wasn’t a starter for Georgia during its National Championship run of 1980, but he was for the next three seasons, two of which ended in conference titles. Gilbert played a few different positions, but defensive end is where he fit best. Despite having bad knees, he ended his Bulldog career with 26 sacks (currently sixth all time in school history). Gilbert had many big games as a Dawg, including at Auburn as a freshman, when he scooped up a blocked punt and raced 27 yards for a touchdown. A season later, he terrorized Florida's Wayne Peace all game long, sacking the Gator quarterback four times. Two seasons later against Temple, Gilbert did one better and registered five sacks (still a Georgia single-game record). That season, he also was named All-American by the UPI. Gilbert played both in the USFL and in the NFL, appearing in two Super Bowls.
Mitch Davis (1990-93): Mitch Davis was one of the fiercest passs rushers for Georgia during the Ray Goff head-coaching era. Hailing from Mobile, Alabama (see, the Dawgs can recruit in Alabama), he either led or co-led Georgia in sacks in his last three seasons wearing the red and black. Davis’ 27½ career sacks are fifth all time in school ranks. He was the Defensive MVP of the 1993 Citrus Bowl in which the Bulldogs defeated the Buckeyes of Ohio State. After his playing days at Georgia, Davis was drafted by the Falcons (see, Atlanta has drafted Dawgs). After playing for just a few seasons in the NFL, he would later go back to Athens to finish school and get his diploma.
David Pollack (2001-04): Stop me if you heard this before: David Pollack wasn’t highly ranked in terms of recruiting out of high school (I also heard that he played Pee-Wee football with David Greene). Anyway, he is one of the players you have to consider being the best defensive player Georgia has ever had. Pollack was a three-time All-American and two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He also won the Lombardi, Bednarik, Lott and Hendricks Awards. Pollack’s 36 career sacks are the most in school history—seven more than the second-place Bulldog—and currently fourth all time in SEC history. He had 283 tackles, including 58 for loss, caused seven fumbles, recovered three fumbles and had four interceptions. One of the interceptions resulted in 2002 in Columbia, South Carolina, when he basically took away a pass in the end zone from Gamecock quarterback Corey Jenkins, whereby he landed for a touchdown. After a short NFL career, Pollack became a successful broadcaster and can be seen on a number of different shows on the ESPN family of networks, including the popular GameDay.
Justin Houston (2008-10): People now know him more so as one of the best sack masters in the NFL, but Justin Houston was pretty good at Georgia, too. In three seasons with the Bulldogs, the Statesboro native had 20 sacks, half of which resulted in his junior season, good for eighth in school history. Houston’s 38 career tackles for loss rank fifth in school history. In 2010 against in-state rival Georgia Tech, he made seven tackles, a fumble recovery, which he returned for a touchdown, and an interception, which resulted late in the game as the Yellow Jackets attempted to tie the score. That same season, Houston was named All-American by the Football Writers Association of America, and was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski and the Butkus Awards. He currently plays for the Kansas City Chiefs where, in 2014, he tallied 22 sacks, or a half-sack away from tying the single-season NFL record.
Patrick Garbin—Twitter @PatrickGarbin
Tom Nash (1925-1927): In the days of one-platoon football, players played both ways, and there were no defensive ends, tight ends, or wide receivers—simply, ends. Tom Nash, Georgia’s first consensus All-American, was an “end” primarily recognized for his defensive play. Although an excellent blocker and receiver, making three touchdown receptions during the Bulldogs’ “Dream and Wonder” season of 1927, Nash was more so a relentless defender who dished out bone-rattling hits while routinely corralling errant passes thrown by the opposition. Described as a “he-man, 195 pounds of dynamite and disaster,” he was recognized by the New York Herald Tribune in 1927 as the greatest end in the country, and player in the South. Perhaps more so, Nash was one of the first celebrated players in the South—regardless of the school—whose play garnered national attention and, in the process, enhanced the image of football in the southern region.
Freddie Gilbert (1980-1983): Freddie Gilbert was likely the Georgia newcomer in 1980 who made the most impact in the Bulldogs’ heralded class that season not named “Herschel Walker.” In 1981, the tireless defensive end missed four entire games with an injured knee and didn’t start for nearly two months until the Florida game when, as Dave mentioned, he had a triumphant return with a four-sack performance against the Gators. Playing both end and tackle as a junior, he was a unanimous All-SEC performer, and repeated the recognition the following season of 1983. Also as a senior, Gilbert was chosen First Team All-American by the UPI, and garnered second-team honors by the AP and the Gannett News Service. For his career, and despite making only 26 starts, Gilbert totaled 233 tackles, including 43 for loss, 16 passes broken up, six forced fumbles and, ranking first in a statistic essentially kept by Georgia only during the 1980s, four “caused interceptions.” Two of his four sacks in the Bulldogs’ 26-21 comeback win over Florida in 1981:
David Pollack (2001-2004): Although the argument can be made if defensive tackle-turned-end David Pollack was the greatest Georgia defender ever, there’s no denying he’s certainly the most decorated. Somewhat obscure before his sophomore campaign of 2002, Pollack’s recognition as the SEC Player of the Year that season marked the first time an underclassman had received the honor in 12 years (Florida QB Shane Matthews in 1990), and 14 years since a defensive player had been honored (Auburn DT Tracy Rocker in 1988). The career accolades earned by Pollack, who gave 110% of himself on every snap and whose “motor” constantly ran, are numerous, including being a three-time First Team All-American, equaled in the annals of Georgia football by only the legendary Herschel Walker. In addition, the recipient of the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s top defensive end on two occasions—2003 and 2004—marked the only two times any SEC defensive end had received the honor until 2016.
Jarvis Jones (2011-2012): David Pollack might be the Bulldogs’ greatest defensive player ever, yet there’s little doubt no Georgia defender wreaked as much havoc in a two-season period than outside linebacker Jarvis Jones. In just two seasons, and despite missing a couple of games, the Southern California-transfer totaled 155 tackles, including a staggering 44 for loss, 28 sacks, 88 quarterback pressures, five broken-up passes, nine caused fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and an interception—unbelievable! In 2012, Jones joined the select group of Frank Sinkwich, Herschel Walker, Terry Hoage, and Pollack as the only Bulldogs in history to have earned consensus First Team All-American honors in multiple seasons. And, with 41 points including one first-place vote as a junior the same season, he remains the only Georgia player since 1998 to be featured in the final voting of the coveted Heisman Trophy.
UGASports.com's Previous UGA Mount Rushmores: Quarterbacks
Early next week, we will reveal our next in the UGA’s Mount Rushmore of… series. Until then, again, do you agree with today’s list? Who would you put on your Mount Rushmore of UGA Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers?