ATHENS —Georgia football has taken its place on the national stage under Kirby Smart, according to former UGA running back and NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Davis.
Davis knows all about the view, having ascended himself from a humble beginning at Long Beach State to the University of Georgia and on to the NFL’s Denver Broncos.
In fact, the most recent running back to win Super Bowl MVP honors was none other than Davis.
The former Bulldog rushed for 157 yards and a Super Bowl-record three touchdowns in the Broncos’ 31-24 Super Bowl XXXll win over Green Bay.
Davis, however, was more interested in talking to WSB-TV 2 about his beloved Bulldogs during Super Bowl week in Atlanta.
Credit to Kirby
“You want to be in a position where your program is in contention, (and) we were literally seconds away from a national title,” Davis said, referring to the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game against Alabama in January of 2018.
“Georgia is always going to be in the conversation, I think Kirby has got us where we’re playing ball on a level that we should be playing.”
Davis said he enjoys seeing the Bulldogs play non-conference opponents in games that receive national attention.
“We played big games, I loved the Notre Dame travel, the Rose Bowl, I went to that, playing Oklahoma,” Davis told WSB-TV. “Georgia is a program that needs to be doing that.
“It’s not just a regional program, it’s a national program, it’s a national brand, and I’d like to see us expose it more to this country.”
“It’s not just a regional program. It’s a national program.”
— Bulldogs Game Day (@WSBbulldogs) February 1, 2019
Davis wants others to know what he didn’t learn until he traveled across the country to become a part of the team after his first school, Long Beach State, eliminated its football program in 1991.
“I didn’t know what big-time football looked like until I got to Georgia,” said Davis, who backed up former UGA great Garrison Hearst his first season in Athens.
“I realized it was the big leagues, it was so overwhelming that I wasn’t able to perform in my mind the way I wanted to, because I was thinking so much about the pressure, there was a lot of pressure there, knowing the history at Georgia and playing in the SEC.”
Davis came to the Bulldogs after a modest redshirt freshman season at Long Beach State of 55 carries for 262 yards. In 1992 he had 53 carries for 388 yards playing behind Hearst.
The 1993 season marked a breakout year for Davis, as he led the Bulldogs with 824 yards on 167 carries.
Davis’ senior season was hampered by a hamstring injury that forced him to miss three games, and he finished with 97 carries for 445 yards and 31 catches for 330 yards.
Once in the NFL, Davis’ career took off.
Davis led the NFL in rushing touchdowns in the 1997 season (15) in addition to rushing for 1,750 yards including 100-yard outings in all four of the Broncos’ playoff games.
Nicknamed “TD,” Davis literally carried the franchise to its first league championship with the win over the Packers.
The San Diego native followed up with a 2,008-yard rushing season in 1998, earning NFL MVP honors and leading Denver to another Super Bowl win. Davis had 102 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving in the Broncos’ 34-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Davis remains Denver’s all-time leading rusher with 7,607 yards from 1995-2001 with the Broncos. His career bio also includes three Pro Bowls, three first-team All-Pro selections and two NFL Offensive Player of the Year Awards.
“I didn’t know what big-time football looked like, until I got to Georgia.”#DGD @Terrell_Davis talked about his time in Athens, and how proud he is to be a part of #RBU, all on Bulldogs Game Day at 10!
— Bulldogs Game Day (@WSBbulldogs) February 2, 2019