Pollack Made a Name for Himself

ATHENS -- When David Pollack got off Georgia's team bus two years ago in Columbia, S.C., his name recognition extended no further than the team's practice fields. When he got back on it late Saturday night, he was on his way to stardom and Georgia was on its way to the SEC Championship.

The reason for that came with 13:58 left in the fourth quarter of the 2002 game against the Gamecocks. South Carolina quarterback Corey Jenkins rolled to his right in his own end zone and looked downfield when David Pollack beat two blockers, dove, stripped the ball from Jenkins' cocked hand, and caught it one-handed as he fell into the end zone.

It was the Bulldogs' only touchdown of the game and provided the margin of a victory in a 13-7 win that propelled them to the conference title.

"After that game, we felt like we could overcome anything," safety Thomas Davis said.

No. 3 Georgia (1-0) returns to Williams-Brice Stadium today for the first time since that play. The game will kick off at 5:30 p.m. and be televised by ESPN.

"That was one of those games that can get a shock moving through your whole team," Coach Mark Richt said.

It didn't start out that way. Georgia scored on a 22-yard Billy Bennett field goal 2:06 into the game before a severe thunderstorm delayed the game for 52 minutes. Neither team scored again until the fourth quarter.

"I was probably more shook up inside in that game than I have been in any game at Georgia," Richt said. "We were one play away from losing that game in one of the ugliest games I've ever been around."

It was ugly for everyone but Pollack, who led Georgia with 14 tackles, forced a fumble on the final play of the game, and, of course, inserted himself into every UGA highlight film from now on.

"I can't ever remember a play like that," Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley said. "That was one of the most special plays ever in college football. It launched him to where he is now."

Where he is now is at the top of the game. He's a two-time All-American, a former SEC Player of the Year, the reigning Hendricks Award winner as the nation's best defensive tackle and projected as a first-round NFL draft pick next season.

He's also become one of the most popular players in the history of the school. The attention he receives rivals or surpasses what defensive stars like Deion Sanders, Derrick Brooks and Marvin Jones got at Florida State, Coach Mark Richt said. At Georgia, Terry Hoage is the only defensive player to receive more media attention and demands than Pollack, said Claude Felton, the school's sports information director.

"That may change by midseason," Felton said.

Pollack has his own Web site, www.DavidPollack.com, which of course features a picture of The Play, which turned him from unknown grinder into full-fledged superstar.

"It was overwhelming," said Pollack, who could join Herschel Walker as the Bulldogs' only three-time All-American. "After the South Carolina game, everything came so fast, and I didn't know how to handle it. Now I do. Now it's like 'Groundhog Day.'

"It gave me more notoriety, and it's probably why I got All-American that year."

Pollack faced the media that day quiet and wide-eyed. He's rarely been quiet since, growing into a brash leader on and off the field.

"He's come out of his shell," Davis said. "That's quite noticeable."

South Carolina's fans and players seem to have grown weary of the constant talk about Pollack. A group of fans has created a drinking game on the Internet based around Pollack. Participants have to take two drinks every time an announcer says Pollack's "motor is always running" and finish their drink anytime the announcer says he gives "110 percent." Any mention of Pollack and Georgia quarterback David Greene playing youth football together also requires the finishing of a drink.

Gamecocks starting left tackle Jabari Levey said he's anxious to face Pollack today and hopefully turn some of the talk around.

"We've been hearing about Pollack since last year," Levey said. "He's a great player. He deserves all the recognition he gets. I guess after the game, we'll see who the best man is."

Pollack is as tired as anyone of hearing about his play. He estimates Georgia's coaches have shown it to the team "four billion times."

"It was great," he said, "but that was two years ago." "I can't even say how many times I've seen that play," Davis said. "That's one of the greatest plays in college football. It's a good enough play just to strip it, but to come up with the ball, that's just crazy."

Pollack knows there's only one way to make people stop talking about two years ago.

"I'd love to make another play to shut that one up," he said.

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