Brant Sanderlin/AJC
Dominick Sanders is the master of the interception.

Is Dominick Sanders on his way to becoming the greatest ballhawk in Georgia history?

Cy Brown

Welcome to your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today we look at Georgia Bulldogs in the US Open, more hype for the UGA-Notre Dame game, and whether or not Dominick Sanders is the best ballhawk in the history of Georgia football.


Dominick Sanders could be Georgia football’s greatest ballhawk

Edward Aschoff of ESPN on Tuesday looked at SEC defensive backs most likely to get 5 interceptions this upcoming season. Not surprisingly, Georgia safety Dominick Sanders was near the top of the list, coming in at No. 2. He’s one of the top ballhawks in the conference, maybe the country, and will be the anchor of Georgia’s defensive backfield this fall.

Sanders has 12 interceptions in three years. Last year, he had just 3 picks, but he collected 6 in 2015. Sanders is the ultimate ball hawk and is an absolute pain for quarterbacks to play against. Sanders covers way too much of the field not to have a chance at ending his Georgia career with five more interceptions.

Regardless of what happens in 2017, Sanders will go down as one the best ballhawks to ever wear the ‘G’ on his helmet — and one of the best defense backs at UGA in quite a while. His 12 interceptions are good for ninth in the Georgia record books for career picks. But let’s take that further.

What are his chances of going down as 1) the greatest ballhawk in Bulldog history, and 2) one of the best defensive backs in school history?

First, let’s make clear the difference between ballhawk and defensive back. In ballhawk, I’m talking strictly a guy who create interceptions. If we’re just talking about greatest UGA defensive backs, Champ Bailey and Terry Hoage are at the top, with Sanders needing a stellar 2017 before we even begin the discussion of him joining those two. If Sanders hits the 5-interception bar Aschoff set, he’ll have made quite a case for being named Georgia’s GOAT ballhawk.

Five more interceptions would give Sanders 17 for his career, which would break the school record of 16 shared by Jake Scott and Bacarri Rambo.

Sanders entered last season as one of only 11 Bulldogs to pick off 2 or more passes in a single game. (Scott is another of them, and he ran both back for touchdowns vs. UK in 1968, as did Darryl Gamble vs. LSU in 2008.) He already holds the school record for interception return yards in a season with his 205 in 2015. That season also saw Sanders return a pick 88 yards for a touchdown against Vanderbilt, the fifth-longest in school history. Sanders has managed to fill the record book in three seasons more than some of UGA’s very best DBs did in four.

When you look at the records for interceptions, one name pops out over and over. With all the interceptions he pulled in, during an era when teams passed the ball much less than they do now, Scott still has to be considered the best ballhawk in Georgia history.

Sanders has one huge advantage over Scott, though: One more season. Even if Sanders gets 4 picks this season, his three-year average, he would tie Scott and Rambo atop the career leaderboard. But with everything Georgia returns on defense, opposing quarterbacks are going to be prone to errant throws all season. So Sanders will have plenty of chances to come down with picks and strengthen his résumé.

Dawgs at the Open

After one round of the US Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, we can count one former Dawg among early favorites to win the tournament. Brian Harman shot 5-under par 67 in a bogey-free opening round Thursday to put him tied for fourth place, 2 strokes behind leader Rickie Fowler. Grouped with Tommy Fleetwood and Bud Cauley, Harman is set to tee off at 1:25 p.m. ET on Friday.

A few more Bulldogs also broke par on Thursday, as Russell Henley and Harris English each finished the round 1 under. Heading up the rear as far as Dawgs go are Kevin Kisner and Bubba Watson, at 2- and 3-over par, respectively.

UGA-ND ranked among top games to watch in 2017

The hype continues to pour in for Georgia’s early-season contest with Notre Dame. The Sept. 9 matchup was listed by Sports Illustrated among the top college football games you need to watch in 2017.

Georgia, meanwhile, is trying to prove it’s a contender again this season after a mediocre 8–5 finish a year ago. In fact, the Bulldogs haven’t finished with more than 10 wins since 2012, but this group could the one to right the ship. Quarterback Jacob Eason, who started as a true freshman last fall, now has a year of experience to build on, and the Bulldogs’ secondary finished 2016 on an upswing it hopes will persist. Georgia is also counting on improved offensive line to get running back Nick Chubb back into pre-injury form.

Bad memories for UGA

Georgia was named twice in a Bleacher Report list of the most memorable college plays since 2000, and came out on the bad end of both of them. I’ll let you take a guess at which plays they were.

ICYMI

Good dog

Party on, dog.

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