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Sports

College Football: Hall of Fame Spotlight on DE David Pollack, Georgia

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College Football: Hall of Fame Spotlight on DE David Pollack, Georgia

2021-04-12 10:37:55

 

-Posted by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Defensive end David Pollack recorded a school-record 36 sacks as a Georgia Bulldog. (Image Source: National Football Foundation) 

David Pollack, one of the greatest defensive ends in the history of college football, began his college career as a fullback. He attracted attention as a 6-foot-3, 270 lb. two-way player at Shiloh High School outside Atlanta, but questions remained if he could play defensive line in the SEC. Coach Mark Richt, who had just taken over the program, pushed the concerns aside, recognizing Pollack’s toughness, hard style of play and leadership qualities.

“I don’t know if there was any sense that I was going to be a great player at Georgia,” said Pollack. “They recruited me as a fullback, and everybody got hurt in camp my freshman year so they moved me to defensive tackle and then defensive end for spring ball. So, I played three positions in my first six months on campus.”

Georgia Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder played the key role in convincing Pollack to switch from offense to defense.

“I was in the weight room the summer before my freshman season in 2001, and I am one of the most hyper-competitive people you’ll ever meet,” said Pollack. “VanGorder saw me trying to beat everybody on every drill, and he immediately started saying: ‘Hey, Pollack, you need to come to the dark side. You need to come to defense.’ He had his eye on me and saw something in me.”

Defensive end coach Jon Fabris also played a key role in turning Pollack into a three-time First Team All-American.

“David Pollack was a character with character,” said Fabris. “He had a sense of humor and would needle people, but he had a serious, competitive side to him with an outstanding work ethic… He did not quit at five o’clock. He was always going to lift more weights than the other guy. He was always going to watch more film than the other guy. He was a perfectionist always looking for an edge. He was a throwback player who played the game the way it was meant to be played.”

Fabris recalled a couple of veteran players telling a young Pollack to turn it down in practice because his relentless energy was making them look bad. “I’ll never forget it as long as I live,” said Fabris. “He looked them right in the eye and said: ‘We’ll that’s your problem because that’s how I am going to play.’ I had a big smile on my face. He was there to win and did not care if the older guys liked him or not.”

In a career full of special memories, Pollack showed off his athleticism during the second game of his sophomore season against South Carolina on the road. Out maneuvering two Gamecock blockers, Pollack penetrated their end zone to deflect South Carolina quarterback Corey Jenkins’s pass while corralling the ball before it hit the ground for an interception and the only touchdown in the Bulldogs’ road win. Pollack ended his sophomore season, having never played a snap before at defensive end, as the SEC Player of the Year, and the Bulldogs went 13-1, the most wins in Georgia history.

Pollack credits nose guard David Jacobs and strong safety Jermaine Phillips, both veterans on the team, for inspiring him his freshman year. During the next three seasons, Pollack mentioned Thomas Davis and Odell Thurman on defense and Russ Tanner and David Greene on offense as the players who influenced him the most. They would contribute to Bulldog teams that notched a 34-6 record, including wins in the Sugar, Capital One and Outback bowls and three Top Ten finishes.

“Going into the Hall means you have a lot of people in your life who really cared about your life and who showed you what it looks like and poured into you,” said Pollack. “It really starts with my mom and dad who sacrificed so much of their life for me. It just puts into context how fortunate I am to have so many people around who took an onus and cared for me.”

Selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Bengals, Pollack suffered an injury in 2006, which limited his pro career to three years. He entered the broadcast profession in 2008 and currently appears as an analyst on ESPN’s College GameDay.

DAVID POLLACK: UP CLOSE

  • Three Time First Team All-American (consensus in 2002 and 2004).
  • Honored as the 2002 SEC Player of the Year and 2004 SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
  • Received the Bednarik, Rotary Lombardi and Lott IMPACT trophies in 2004 and the only two-time recipient of the Ted Hendricks Award.
  • Holds Georgia’s record for sacks (36), tackles for loss (58.5) and tied for blocked punts (3).
  • Played for head coach Mark Richt.
  • Becomes the 15th Bulldog player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
 

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