ATHENS — It’s hard to imagine, but Kirby Smart believes some of Georgia’s players don’t know who Herschel Walker is or what he has meant to the football program. So he set out to remedy that by having the former superstar talk to the team before Saturday’s scrimmage at Sanford Stadium.
Walker was actually in town as the guest of honor for the Spec Towns Invitational track meet up at the Vince Dooley Athletic Complex. But as long as he was around, Smart figured he’d get the school’s all-time leading rusher to talk a little football with the current team.
“I’ve enjoyed it every chance I’ve had to be around him,” said Smart, himself a UGA football letterman. “I think he represents and embodies what this place is about and I think it’s important for the players to understand that. I don’t know how many players know what this guy has done in its history for the University of Georgia, what he’s meant. To come back to a track meet and be back for that, he’s giving of himself.
“I don’t think enough of our guys are willing to give of their time for whatever it is. This guy has given so much to this place. I think that’s important for them to know and we told them that.”
In addition to leading Georgia to an undefeated season and a national championship in 1980, Walker won the Hesiman Trophy in 1982, finished as the school’s all-time leading rusher, led the Bulldogs to three straight SEC championships, had his jersey retired and has donated millions of dollars to the school and athletic association. He was one of the initial donors who helped fund Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.
When he left UGA a year early to join the USFL, Walker had established 41 Georgia records, 16 SEC records and 11 NCAA records.
Walker’s presence seemed to inspire Georgia’s offense. A week after challenging the offense to run the ball better, Smart said they did. The coach also said Sony Michel had a couple of nice long runs and heaped praise on backup Tae Crowder
“Tae has grown up a lot and he’s had to,” Smart said. “I don’t know how many times he carried it but it was in the teens. He ran physical and tough behind those pads. I can’t say it’s because we’ve run the ball so well or we can’t stop the run, but one of the two is going on.”
Overall, though, Smart said the offense won the day. It was the opposite in the first scrimmage.
“We either have a long way to go on defense or we’re better than I think on offense and I don’t know how to answer that because the offense, I won’t say dominated, but they definitely won the scrimmage,” Georgia’s coach said. “It was a little disappointing because the last practice we had, which would have been Thursday, we kind of challenged the defense because the offense had dominated them Thursday.”
G-Day, Georgia’s annual spring football scrimmage, is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, at Sanford Stadium. Check back here daily for DawgNation’s G-Day coverage brought to you by Georgia United Credit Union.