ATHENS - As far as the Georgia football program is concerned, there may be only one good thing to come out of events of the past month: The urge to compare any tailback to the greatest one in school history, the desire to find the next Herschel Walker ... It won’t happen anymore.
Or at least anybody who tries should have their head examined.
This time last year, Georgia offensive coaches were trying to tamp down comparisons between Isaiah Crowell and Walker. As we discovered, they were right to do so. And one doubts any tailback will ever again be mentioned in the same sentence with Herschel, no matter how good Keith Marshall or Todd Gurley may look against Florida Atlantic.
This is what Mike Bobo, the former Georgia quarterback and now offensive coordinator, said last August when asked to compare Crowell to anybody.
“A marquee tailback at any school, there’s a lot of expectation – especially at this level. But a place like Georgia, that’s had a lot of great tailbacks, and had arguably one of the best that’s ever played the game. And everybody’s still waiting for that guy,” Bobo said, not even needing to say Walker’s name.
Walker played his high school football at Johnson County, where he stamped his legacy as one of the top players in middle Georgia prep history. The Macon Telegraph is doing a summer project, selecting the top player at every uniform number (0-99) in Middle Georgia history.
Walker is the easy and obvious choice for No. 43. (He transposed those numbers when he got to college.)
“I’ve always believed that talented people can be overachievers too - those are your superstars - and there is no better example than Herschel Walker,” wrote Vince Dooley in his 2005 book, “Dooley: My 40 Years at Georgia.”
Walker only played three years in Athens, but he still holds most of the program’s rushing records. He has the three top rushing-yardage seasons in school history, and his 1,891 in 1981 is still the SEC record. His career total of 5,259 is also an SEC record. He has the two top rushing-yardage games in Georgia history (283 vs. Vanderbilt in ‘80 and 265 vs. Ole Miss in ‘81). His 49 career rushing touchdowns is also the Georgia and SEC record.
“When you combine those skills with intangibles like determination and self-discipline, then you have a once-in-a-lifetime player,” Dooley wrote. “That’s what Herschel Walker was.”