We’re in the midst of what I’ve termed “reading season” in college football.
That’s when all those information-laced magazines hit the shelves to hold fans over until August practice.
So, in the spirit of reading season, here’s some food for football thought: My top five all-time Georgia players.
The list is limited to those I saw play, so no Herschel Walker.
•No. 5 Verron Haynes: Yes, he put the “hobnailed boot” into Tennessee in 2001, but it’s his gutsy performance later that year that landed him in my top 5. Haynes, a tenacious runner, switched from fullback to tailback and ran for 192 yards against Ole Miss and then for 207 the next week against Tech. Too bad Georgia didn’t think of the position change sooner.
•No. 4 Champ Bailey: A rare two-way gem on the gridiron, Bailey was a great corner and logged 744 receiving yards as a junior. Don’t forget: Bailey helped set up Mike Bobo’s game-winner against Tech in 1997 with a key 27-yard reception. Plus, what better name than “Champ?”
•No. 3 Knowshon Moreno: The acrobatic and charismatic Moreno left ‘em wanting more. The tailback ran for 2,734 yards in just two seasons. What’s more, he leapt over defenders and scored the touchdown against Florida in 2007 that sparked Georgia’s infamous, full-squad celebration in the end zone.
•No. 2 D.J. Shockley: Had he not been out with injury against Florida in 2005, he would have likely torched the Gators. Still, Shockley guided UGA to an SEC title that season as a senior, and he’s a Bulldog legend for it. There’s no more beloved one-year starter in school history …
Before I unveil no. 1, here’s some current players who could enter my top five when their Bulldog careers are over: A.J. Green, Joe Cox, Orson Charles (the recruit has instant “street cred” for breaking Florida’s national title trophy) and Jeff Owens.
And now, my top Dog of all-time:
•No. 1 Hines Ward: Perhaps the most versatile Dog of them all, Ward did everything but sell programs at UGA.
He played three positions, including quarterback, where he led the Dogs to a memorable win over Tech in 1995. I remember Ward fondly for his role in Georgia’s 37-17 whipping of Florida in 1997. He totaled 133 yards that afternoon via receiving, rushing and passing. Apart from the stats, Ward was the grittiest Bulldog I’ve seen, a quality that’s served him well in what’s possibly a Hall of Fame pro career.
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison County Journal.