Top 10 Best Georgia College Football Players of All Time
The Georgia Bulldogs have been playing football since 1892. In their 130+ year history, they have won four national championships (1942, 1980, 2021, 2022). They have had some incredibly talented players over the years. The remainder of this piece will talk about the ten best players in program history.
Who Are the Best University of Georgia Football Players of All Time?
- Herschel Walker
- David Pollack
- Nick Chubb
- Jarvis Jones
- Frank Sinkwich
- Terry Hoage
- Todd Gurley
- Matthew Stafford
- Roquan Smith
- Fran Tarkenton
1. Herschel Walker
- 1982 Heisman Trophy Winner
- Three-time SEC Player of the Year (1980-1982)
- Three-time First Team All-American selection (1980-1982)
One of the greatest college football players in history, running back Herschel Walker is certainly the best player in Georgia history. Walker played three years at Georgia from 1980-1982 before heading off to the pros. He was named a First Team All-American, a First Team All-SEC member, and won SEC Player of the Year each year he was in school. Additionally, he won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Award in 1982.
On Georgia’s all-time rushing leaderboards, Walker has the most rushing yards (5,259) and the most rushing touchdowns (49) in program history despite only playing three years. Overall, from 1980-1982, Georgia had an overall record of 33-3, including going 12-0 and winning the national championship in 1980.
After deciding to forgo his senior year, Walker decided to go play in the new United States Football League (USFL). After a few years in that league, the Dallas Cowboys took him with a fifth round pick in the 1985 NFL Draft. He had a great NFL career, but it was not quite as generational as his college one, and he is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
2. David Pollack
- Two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2002, 2004)
- Three-time First Team All-SEC selection (2002-2004)
- Three-time First Team All-American selection (2002-2004)
The greatest defensive player in Georgia history is defensive lineman David Pollack. Pollack played in the early 2000s for four seasons from 2001-2004. In addition to being named to the All-SEC First team and a First Team All-American each year, he won two SEC Defensive Player of the Year awards (2002, 2004), the 2004 Chuck Bednarik Award, and the 2004 Lombardi Trophy.
Always finding a way to get after the quarterback, Pollack is Georgia’s all-time leader with 36 sacks. His 14 in 2002 are the second most in a single season in school history, and his 12.5 in 2004 are the fifth most. In his four years, the Bulldogs went 42-10, winning three straight Bowl games from 2002-2004 (2002 Sugar Bowl, 2003 Capitol One Bowl, 2004 Outback Bowl).
After his outstanding college career, the Cincinnati Bengals took Pollack with the 17th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Injuries hampered his time in the NFL, but his college career will always be one to remember, and he is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
3. Nick Chubb
- 2014 SEC Freshman of the Year
- 2014 First Team All-SEC
- 2017 Second Team All-SEC
The second running back already to make this list is current NFL star Nick Chubb. Chubb was a four year player for the Bulldogs from 2014-2017. During his freshman year in 2014, he was named SEC Freshman of the Year and made first Team All-SEC. He also went on to make the All-SEC Second Team in 2017.
As for his career numbers, Chubb comes in at number two in both rushing touchdowns (44) and rushing yards (4,769) in Georgia history. While he was on the team from 2014-2017 the Bulldogs went 41-10, winning a Bowl game all four years (2014 Belk Bowl, 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl, 2016 Liberty Bowl, 2017 Rose Bowl) before losing in the National Championship game in 2017.
A few months after that game, the Cleveland Browns took Chubb with a second round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has had a great start to his NFL career, and his Georgia days will not be forgotten anytime soon.
4. Jarvis Jones
- 2012 SEC Defensive Player of the Year
- Two-time First Team All-American selection (2011, 2012)
- Two-time All-SEC First Team selection (2011, 2012)
Like David Pollack, Jarvis Jones was a great defensive player for the Bulldogs. After starting his career at USC in 2009, Jones transferred to Georgia, and after sitting out a year in 2010, he played two years for the Bulldogs in 2011 and 2012. He made the First Team All-SEC and was a First Team All-American both seasons, and he won the 2012 Jack Lambert Trophy and was the 2012 SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
Playing linebacker, Jones had a real knack for getting after the quarterback. Even though he was only on the team for two seasons, his 28 career sacks are tied for the third most in school history. His 14.5 in 2012 are a single season school record, and his 13.5 in 2011 are the third most in a single season. In the two seasons while Jones was leading the defense, Georgia went 22-6, capping off his career with a victory in the 2012 Capital One Bowl.
After a great two years, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Jones with the seventeenth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Unfortunately for him, injuries wound up shortening his pro career.
5. Frank Sinkwich
- 1942 Heisman Trophy winner
- Two-time First Team All-American selection (1941, 1942
- 1942 SEC Player of the Year
The other player in Georgia history to win the Heisman Trophy along with Herschel Walker, Frank Sinkwich rounds out the first half of this list. After not playing as a freshman in 1940, as freshmen were not eligible for varsity sports at this time, Sinkwich played three years with the Bulldogs from 1941-1943. In that time, he was a two-time All-American (1941, 1942), won the 1942 Heisman Trophy, was the 1942 Associated Player of the Year, and won the 1942 SEC Player of the Year.
Throughout his career, Sinkwich totaled 2,271 rushing yards and scored 60 total touchdowns. He also reportedly played a game with a broken jaw against Florida, further adding to his legend. Overall, Georgia went 26-6-1 winning the program’s first National Championship in 1942 after winning the Orange Bowl in 1941. Sinkwich then went on to be the first overall pick in the 1943 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, but like so many great athletes of his generation, he decided to join the military for World War II. After being discharged, he did go on to play in the NFL for a couple of seasons.
6. Terry Hoage
- 1980 National Champion
- Two-time First Team All-American selection (1982, 1983)
- Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame member
A teammate of Herschel Walker’s on the 1980 National Championship team, Terry Hoage played defensive back for the Bulldogs for four years from 1980 to 1983. Along with winning the championship in 1980, he was a two-time First Team All-American in 1982 and 1983. He also is a member of the Florida-Georgia rivalry Hall of Fame.
A player who had a great ability for finding the ball in the air, Hoage's 14 career interceptions rank fifth all-time in school history. He had 12 of those in one season in 1982, a single season school record. From 1980 to 1983, Georgia went an incredible 43-4-1, winning the 1983 Sugar Bowl along with the Championship in 1980. Once his college days were up, Hoage was taken in the third round of the 1984 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. He had a great thirteen year career in the NFL, capping off a great life of football between college and the pros.
7. Todd Gurley
- 2012 First Team All-SEC
- 2013 Second Team All-SEC
- Top Five in Georgia History in Rushing Yards and Touchdowns
The fourth running back in the first seven players listed here is Todd Gurley. Gurley was in Athens for three years from 2012-2014 before heading off to the NFL. He made an All-SEC each of his first two years, making the First Team in 2012 and the Second Team in 2013. Injuries shortened his 2014 season, or he likely would have made it three straight years.
Even though he only played three years and one was shortened by injury, Gurley still has the fourth most rushing yards (3,285) and the third most rushing touchdowns (36) in Georgia history. Georgia won 75% of their games with Gurley on the team, going 30-10 from 2012-2014. They also won the Capital One Bowl in 2012 and the Belk Bowl in 2014.
After deciding to forgo his senior year, the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams took Gurley with the tenth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He has had a solid NFL career up to this point, and he may not be as explosive as he once was, but he is still going strong in the league eight years later.
8. Matthew Stafford
- 2008 First Team All-American
- 2008 Second Team All-SEC
- 2006 SEC Coaches’ All-Freshman Team
The first quarterback to make this list is another current NFL player in Matthew Stafford. Stafford led the Bulldogs offense for three years from 2006-2008 before leaving for the NFL. After being named to the 2006 SEC Coaches All-Freshman Team, he went on to be a First Team All-American in 2008 and make the All-SEC Second Team that same year.
Among Georgia’s career passing leaders, Stafford currently sits in sixth place in both passing yards (7,731) and passing touchdowns (51) all-time. He was in third in both of those categories when his college career ended in 2008. As for team success, Stafford led the Bulldogs to an overall record of 30-9, winning three straight Bowl games in the 2006 Chick-Fil-A Bowl, the 2007 Sugar Bowl, and the 2008 Capital One Bowl.
Stafford then decided to head to the pros, and the Detroit Lions rewarded his decision by drafting him number one overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. After a great career with Detroit, Stafford went to the Los Angeles Rams, and he won a Super Bowl with them in 2022.
9. Roquan Smith
- 2017 Butkus Award Winner
- 2017 SEC Defensive Player of the Year
- 2017 First Team All-American
The final defensive player is also the penultimate player on this list in Roquan Smith. A linebacker, Smith led the Georgia defense for three seasons from 2015-2017. After his junior season in 2017, he won the Butkus Award, was a First Team All-America, made the All-SEC First Team, and won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
As is evident by the awards won, Smith stuffed the stat sheet in 2017, recording 137 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. He also led the team with 95 tackles in 2016. In totality, Smith helped lead Georgia to a 31-10 overall record from 2015-2017, winning the TaxSlayer Bowl in 2015, the Liberty Bowl in 2016, and making it to the National Championship Game in 2017. After deciding to head to the NFL instead of playing his senior season, the Chicago Bears took Smith with the eighth overall pick in 2018. He has a solid beginning to his pro career, and it is on track to be just as good as his college one.
10. Fran Tarkenton
- Two-time All-SEC First Team selection (1959, 1960)
- 1960 Orange Bowl Champion
- 1959 SEC Champion
The final player to make this list is also the second quarterback in Fran Tarkenton. Another player who was not eligible as a freshman due to the rules of the time, Tarkenton played for the Bulldogs and led the offense for three years from 1958-1960. He made the All-SEC First team in his final two seasons in 1959 and 1960.
Tarkenton’s career numbers still have him in the top twenty all-time in both passing yards (2,100) and passing touchdowns (18) despite having not played in over 60 years. With Tarkenton as the quarterback, Georgia had an overall record of 20-11, including going 10-1 in 1959 and winning the SEC Championship, as well as winning the Orange Bowl that same season.
In an era where both the NFL and AFL were competing, Tarkenton was drafted in both drafts in 1961. The Boston Patriots took him in the fifth round of the AFL Draft, but he chose to sign with the Minnesota Vikings after they took him in the third round of the NFL Draft. Tarkenton helped the Vikings reach several Super Bowls, although they never won one.
- Champ Bailey
- Jordan Davis
- Nakobe Dean
- Terrence Edwards
- Garrison Hearst
- Aaron Murray
- Jake Scott
- Bill Stanfill
- Hines Ward
- Scott Woerner
Who is the best Georgia quarterback of all time?
While there have been a few good ones, the best quarterback in program history is Matthew Stafford. Stafford led the Bulldogs for three seasons from 2006-2008. After being named to the 2006 SEC Coaches All-Freshman Team, he went on to be a First Team All-American in 2008 and make the All-SEC Second Team that same year. Additionally, Stafford currently sits in sixth place in both passing yards (7,731) and passing touchdowns (51) all-time at Georgia.
Who is the best Georgia wide receiver of all time?
While he did not quite make the top ten players in program history, the best wide receiver ever at Georgia is Terrence Edwards. Edwards was a part of the Georgia offense for four years from 1999-2002. He did not receive a lot of national recognition during his time there, but he currently is Georgia’s all-time leader in both receiving yards (3,093) and receiving touchdowns (30). He also holds the single season record in both of those categories, posting 1,004 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2002.
Who is the best Georgia running back of all time?
Doubling as the best player in program history regardless of position, the best running back in Georgia history is the great Herschel Walker. Walker played three years for the Bulldogs from 1980-1982. In that time, he was named a First Team All-American, a First Team All-SEC member, and won SEC Player of the Year each year he was in school. Additionally, he is the school’s all-time leader in rushing yards (5,259) and rushing touchdowns (49).