CollegeFootballNews.com 20th Anniversary Top 20 Players
Who were the top 20 players since CFN started in 1998? No. 18 Georgia DE David Pollack
CFN Era Top 20 Players: No. 18 Georgia DE David Pollack
CollegeFootballNews.com is turning 20 this season, so we’re looking back on the greatest players, games, coaches and more since we first kicked things off back in 1998.
For the Top 20 Players since CFN started, the rules are simple. Who made the biggest impact, who were the most important, and who were ones who made the biggest difference? Who were the defining players of the last 20 years?
Also, nothing before 1998 counts.
David Pollack, DE Georgia (2001-2004)
Now, a new generation knows David Pollack as the rising media star on ESPN’s college football coverage. But before living the life of a talking head, and before a broken back ended his pro career way too early, he was one of the most devastatingly consistent pass rushers in college football history.
The superior all-around athlete from the Atlanta area got to Georgia, bulked up a bit, and quickly became known for his high-motor, lighting quickness, and great finishing skills for a few of the best teams in the Mark Richt era.
The breakout star and one of the main catalysts of the 2002 season, Georgia went 13-1 with a dominant SEC Championship win over Arkansas and a Sugar Bowl victory over Florida State. The Dawgs followed it up with a run to the 2003 SEC title game – a loss to eventual national champion, LSU – and a 10-2, Outback-winning 2004 campaign.
The offense had a slew of future NFL stars, and the defense had its array of special athletes, but it was Pollack who was the signature performer week-in-and-week out.
The Unstoppable Pass Rusher
He just never, ever stopped.
Nice as a freshman, he saw a little bit of work with a few sacks, showing an inkling of what was to come.
Once he hit the field as a sophomore, he was always in the backfield, earning All-SEC and All-America honors with 102 tackles, 14 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss, and 35 quarterback pressures, proving to be too quick and too relentless game in and game out.
With the spotlight on to do even more, he was strong as a junior – and bigger and bulkier – but not quite as dominant.
For anyone else, 7.5 sacks and 92 tackles would be sensational – and was good enough to earn all-star recognition again – but there was much more about to come.
Considered a late first rounder had he left early – there were a few concerns he was more of a try-hard type than a pass rusher with NFL skills – he stuck around for one more season, shed some of the weight, and finished up by more than living up to the hype in his final run.
How’s this for a career? After cranking up 12.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss as a senior, he finished with 283 tackles, 36 sacks, 58.5 tackles for loss, and a ridiculous 108 pressures.
He didn’t stop.
It was just the second game of the 2002 season for a Bulldog team that escaped a fight with Clemson in the opener. Up 3-0 with the offense sputtering and coughing, Georgia had the Gamecocks pinned deep early in the fourth quarter with a shot to take over the game.
What followed became one of the most iconic defensive plays in SEC history.
Pollack shed two blocks, rose up, attacked the ball as South Carolina QB Corey Jenkins cocked his arm, and in one motion stole it away for an interception, a score, a 10-0 lead, and the spark that helped set in motion a run to the SEC title.
Georgia survived with a 13-7 win, with Pollack’s play the only Bulldog touchdown.
Among the most decorated players in SEC history, the 2004 SEC player of the year won the Bednarik and Lombardi Awards a the nation’s top defensive player, took home the first Lott Trophy, won the Ted Hendricks Award as the top defensive end in 2003 and 2004, and was a three-time All-America and All-SEC performer.
CFN 20th Anniversary lists compiled by Rich Cirminiello, Pete Fiutak, Phil Harrison & Russ Mitchell
Photo credits: University of Georgia