Originally created 01/13/04

Pollack decides to stay for his senior season

ATHENS, Ga. -- The lure of beating Florida for the first time wasn't enough to bring David Pollack back for his senior year. Neither was the chance to reach the Southeastern Conference championship game for the third straight season.

No, what really helped the Georgia defensive end make up his mind to return was the time he's spent in the two weeks since the Bulldogs beat Purdue 34-27 in overtime in the Capital One Bowl.

"I think the most fun I have is in the offseason," Pollack said Monday. "It's definitely not in-season, the grind and everything. That really shows you can be missing out on a year of hanging out with your buddies, just chilling and doing nothing."

Pollack, a second-team All-American this season, made the announcement in front of about 50 of his teammates, who quickly stood and gave him an ovation when he said he was staying.

Most of them came across the hall from the weight room, where they've been busy with conditioning drills. A chant of "We're No. 1" started briefly.

"I can tell he's excited," quarterback David Greene said. "I know I'm excited. I obviously wanted him to stay. Playing his senior year and graduating, I think that means a lot to him."

In the past few weeks, Pollack wavered several times on whether to stay, and he decided at one point that he was going to the NFL. He was told he would be a first-round pick.

Later, he changed his mind again, and really didn't come to the final decision until the past few days.

Even Greene, his roommate, wasn't sure what the final, FINAL decision was.

"I talked to him a couple of hours before he was going to announce it, and he told me he was staying," Greene said. "But I thought he might change his mind again."

Pollack had 7 1/2 sacks this year - including three in the Capital One Bowl - and helped the Bulldogs finish 11-3. He won the Ted Hendricks Award for the national defensive end of the year, and he was a finalist for the Lombardi Award, given to the top lineman or linebacker in the country.

"I don't want to miss out on anything," Pollack said. "If I play 10 years in the NFL, I might be wondering how my senior year would have been. If I play my senior year and then play 10 years in the NFL, what's the real difference?"

In two full seasons, his never-take-a-play-off style has endeared him to the Bulldog Nation. He's a bit undersized to play along the line at 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, but he seemingly never stops moving.

Even though his production dropped greatly from 2002, when he set a school record with 14 sacks, Pollack still is within reach of the school record of 29 sacks, set by Richard Tardits. Pollack has 20 1/2 .

Setting that record - and beating the Gators - were among the goals he said he still hoped to reach.

"I've got some definite things I can do on the football field," Pollack said. "But it didn't boil down to football. It really didn't. Football is football. You can be playing football up there, and you can get tired of that, too."

Having Pollack back certainly means Georgia will be one of the favorites in the SEC next season, even without safety Sean Jones, who has announced that he is leaving for the NFL.

"Of course, I wanted him to stay, so we could win it all next year," Pollack said. "But Sean's making the decision that is best for him.

"But it's like Sean and I said, this place is going to go on without us. This team would be good without us."


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