Hollingshed is lone link to last win over Tech

ATHENS, Ga. — It has been so long since Georgia beat Georgia Tech in football that current Bulldogs have to look in the history books for the accounts.<br><br> Or they can ask teammate <b>Adrian Hollingshed</b>.

First-year coach Mark Richt discovered this week that Hollingshed is the true old-timer of the team when it comes to the Tech series.

"I talked to the team (Monday) night,'' Richt said. "I asked them to raise their hand if they were a part of a Georgia team beating a Tech team in football. About 10 raised their hands. I asked them to raise their hand if they actually got to play in that game and one guy raised his hand. It was Hollingshed.''

Then a true freshman from Peach County High School, Hollingshed played in all 11 1997 games on special teams and as the backup to starting middle linebacker Greg Bright. For perspective, Champ Bailey was a sophomore on that team. Current quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo was a senior, as were Hines Ward and Robert Edwards.

When that team took a last-minute 27-24 win over Tech with a controversial touchdown catch by Corey Allen, Hollingshed figured that would be commonplace in his career. After all, that was the seventh straight win for Georgia in the series.

Growing up in Fort Valley, Hollingshed saw that no matter how poor Georgia's team finished, it could count on a win over Tech. A 5-6 1993 team blasted Tech 43-10. A 6-4-1 1994 team crushed the Yellow Jackets 48-10. In 1996, Coach Jim Donnan's first Georgia team beat Tech 19-10 to finish 5-6.

So after playing in his usual backup role in 1997, Hollingshed did not see the momentum shifting in the state.

"I thought the next year it would be a (Georgia) win, too,'' he said.

Instead, 1998 brought the first of three straight Tech wins over Donnan's Bulldogs, and that streak had much to do with Donnan's ouster. Like Donnan, the last Georgia coach to lose three straight games to Tech — Johnny Griffith (1961-63) — also didn't coach another game for Georgia.

Though 1998 wasn't a good year for Georgia against Tech, it was a big year for Hollingshed. He stared all 11 games, finishing second on the team with 93 tackles. He was named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week after recording 18 tackles with an interception and a quarterback sack against South Carolina.

Just as Hollingshed had no idea he would have to endure a three-year losing streak to Tech, he had no idea his 11 starts in 1998 would be the only starts of his Georgia career.

Hollingshed agreed to move to defensive end in spring practice before the 1999 season, and when he moved back to linebacker during preseason drills, he had lost his starting job. Kendrell Bell and Will Witherspoon shared the middle linebacker position, and Boss Bailey and Orantes Grant were the starting outside linebackers.

After suffering a shoulder injury in the second game of the 1999 season, Hollingshed was granted a medical redshirt year, but he was again a backup to Bell in 2000. When Bell was hurt and Hollingshed was given an opportunity, he delivered big with 13 tackles against Auburn.

As a fifth-year senior this year, Hollingshed is playing behind Tony Gilbert. He has played in all nine games, recording 11 tackles, including one for lost yardage.

"It's been a strange (career) but I've enjoyed it,'' Hollingshed said. "I plan on playing a lot more football.''

Hollingshed's name already is popping up in some NFL draft lists. It's possible he will be drafted ahead of some linebackers who have played ahead of him at Georgia.

At 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds, Hollingshed is a big hitter who has made his share of big plays. Again playing for Bell in last season's Oahu Bowl win over Virginia, Hollingshed recorded 12 tackles to lead the team. He added eight stops, one sacks, one interception, one pass deflection and on tackle for lost yardage in the G-Day spring game this year.

It's difficult to say Hollingshed should be playing ahead of Gilbert, Witherspoon or Boss Bailey this year. It's not difficult to say he should be playing ahead of somebody.

Hollingshed said he has worked to remain positive and has prayed that "One day my talent could show. That's what really kept me going.''

That and some good-natured ribbing from his younger teammates.

"They joke around with me and talk about how old I am,'' he said. "They say I came here in '92 and I'm 30 years old.''

Charles Odum can be reached at CEOdum@aol.com.

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