Originally created 09/09/04

Pollack is weary of big play's spotlight



ATHENS, Ga. - Two years ago this week, David Pollack made an unforgettable play that launched a relatively unknown sophomore defensive end into a high-profile college football star and a Georgia football icon.

Pollack's world changed when he swatted a pass from South Carolina quarterback Corey Jenkins in the end zone. Pollack clutched the ball to his chest as he fell to the ground for the Bulldogs' only touchdown in a 13-7 victory.

Suddenly, Pollack was in demand from fans who wanted to shake his hand and get his autograph and media who wanted to interview him.

"It was overwhelming when you're not anybody great and then it hits you like a ton of bricks," Pollack said. "After that South Carolina play, it started coming fast and hard. I didn't know how to control it when I was a sophomore. Now it's old hat. Groundhog Day."

On Saturday, Pollack and Georgia return to Williams-Brice Stadium, the scene of one of the most indelible plays in Georgia football history.

The replay has been shown on newscasts this week and probably will be aired Saturday on ESPN when College GameDay originates from Columbia.

Just don't expect Pollack to enjoy a trip down memory lane. Pollack wants to see it again as much as a frequent flier wants to watch another safety presentation video before taking off.

"They've shown it to us four billion times," Pollack said. "I'm sick of seeing that crap."

A reaction you might expect from the blunt Pollack.

"He's a brash guy," center Russ Tanner said. "He's going to say what he thinks. That might get him in trouble with some people some of the time. Anybody who ever gets to know him and actually sits down with him likes him a lot and really sees the type of character he has and the type of person and the type of guy he is."

Quarterback David Greene, Pollack's friend and roommate, explains that Pollack focuses on tomorrow, not yesterday.

"He's all about the future," Greene said. "He's not one that likes to talk about things in the past. If anyone talks about him being an All-American, he always downplays that. He's always thinking about what he's going to do next."

Georgia players and coaches still look back in awe with how the play transpired.

With South Carolina trailing 3-0 and backed up on its own 7-yard line in the fourth quarter, Pollack darted in from the left side. He slipped past a tackle with both hands in the air as Jenkins' right arm came forward to deliver a pass from just inside his endzone. Pollack swatted the pass with his outstretched left hand, and while falling, somehow secured the ball with the same hand against his chest for the improbable touchdown.

"The most amazing thing about it is, was the fact that he was able to actually come down with the ball," safety Thomas Davis said. "It's a good enough play that he stripped him in the endzone, but to actually come up with the ball and for it to be tagged as an interception, that's crazy."

Jenkins said after the game that the play was designed for him to roll out and buy time.

"I pulled the ball back and he ripped it out of my arm," Jenkins said. "I looked back at the official and asked him, 'Are you serious?' He said, 'Yeah' and I was just like, 'Wow.' "

The play joined the list of most memorable in Georgia history that includes Lindsay Scott's 93-yard touchdown on a pass from Buck Belue to beat Florida in 1980, Herschel Walker running over Tennessee's Bill Bates on a 16-yard toss sweep that same season, the flea-flicker from Kirby Moore to Pat Hodgson to Bob Taylor for a 73-yard touchdown in an 18-17 win over Alabama in 1965, Richard Appleby's end-around pass to Gene Washington in a 10-7 victory over Florida in 1975 and Michael Johnson's fourth-down catch to beat Auburn in Georgia's 2002 Southeastern Conference title season.

If it wasn't for Pollack's play, coach Mark Richt said, "We don't win that game, we don't win the SEC. Who knows what happens?"

"I can't even remember how many times I've seen that play," Davis said. "I still view that as the greatest play I've ever seen in a college football game."

"That play really put him in a spotlight," Greene said. "After that play in the game, and how well he played, it put him as one of the top players in America."

At Florida State, Richt coached teams that included high-profile defensive stars like Deion Sanders, Marvin Jones, Derrick Brooks and Peter Boulware.

"Pollack is in demand as any of those guys, or more possibly," Richt said.

Pollack wouldn't mind going back into a time machine to the days before he was a two-time All-American, when he could just blend into the rest of the team.

"That was great," Pollack said. "You definitely would like to be low key. Not always having to deal with stuff all the time, but that's not the life. You have to deal with where you're at. It's probably a blessing. I'm probably not going to be able to do this again."

There is one way Pollack can put that play on the backburner. Somehow find a way to top it with another on Saturday.

"That would be awesome," Pollack said, "to make another play to shut that one up."