ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia fans have seen that David Pollack has a motor that won't quit during games.
Pollack's relentless drive probably was the biggest factor that allowed Georgia to escape South Carolina with a 13-7 win Saturday night.
As it turns out, Pollack's motor isn't the only thing he won't turn off.
Pollack admitted Tuesday that he is a non-stop trash talker - at least in practice.
"That's just fun,'' Pollack said. "A lot of the offensive guys probably don't like me a lot in practice.''
Said offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb of Pollack's practice demeanor: "He is very proud of himself. He pretty much lets you know he plans on making a play every play, and sometimes he does.''
No one on the Georgia offense was complaining when Pollack delivered the play of the day for the Bulldogs. Charging past an offensive tackle and a running back, Pollack stripped the ball from South Carolina quarterback Corey Jenkins as Jenkins was trying to pass out of his end zone early in the fourth quarter. Pollack then caught the ball as he was falling down in the end zone, giving Georgia its only touchdown of the game.
The play would have stood alone as worthy of making Pollack a star of the game, but he also had a fumble recovery at the Georgia 2-yard line, a career-high 14 tackles, four quarterback pressures and two deflected passes while earning Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Though it is difficult to imagine him matching his production of the South Carolina game on a consistent basis, Pollack does not look like a one-game wonder. Through two games, he ranks second on the team with 22 tackles and already has two sacks and four passes broken up.
At 6-foot-3 and 264 pounds, Pollack does not look like the most physically imposing player on the field, but in his first season at defensive end he looks like the emerging star of Georgia's defense.
"He was a dominating player in that game, no question,'' said Georgia coach Mark Richt, who Tuesday announced Pollack as one of four captains for Saturday's 1 p.m. game against Northwestern State. It is the first time in Richt's two years at Georgia that a sophomore has been named a game captain.
"Is he going to be a dominating player his whole career?'' asked Richt. "I don't know. I wouldn't put it past him because what you saw right there is what you get every day in practice.''
The one difference: Pollack says he saves his trash-talking for practice. In games he devotes his energy to his all-out assault on offensive linemen.
The Georgia player who can best appreciate the emergence of Pollack is quarterback David Greene. Though Pollack is from Shiloh High School and Greene is from South Gwinnett, the two played together in Gwinnett County's youth leagues.
"The first time we played football, we played together when we were 6 years old,'' Greene said. "I was No. 83, a cornerback. He was No. 44, a defensive lineman. We were champions for five straight years in the Gwinnett Football League. His dad was our coach, and my dad was the offensive line coach.''
Added Greene of Pollack: "He was crazier then than he is now. He was just running around, diving into people.''
Pollack remembers that by the time he was a high school freshman, he was "a little chubby'' and ran the 40-yard dash in "six seconds flat.'' Pollack was assigned to the offensive line. He moved back to fullback his junior season and weighed only about 245 pounds when he signed with Georgia.
Assigned No. 47 because he planned to play fullback last season, Pollack gladly accepted a move to defensive tackle due to a depth problem there.
"By the end of the year he's making plays left and right,'' Richt said. "You don't figure a guy like that can hold up in there, but he did.''
Pollack thought he had found a home, but before spring practice this year he was asked to move again, this time to defensive end. He feared the quickness which had served him so well as a tackle would not be such a factor against better athletes as an end.
"I knew he felt he was a fish out of water,'' Richt said. "He wasn't very effective in the spring. He had a lot to learn.''
Pollack shed a few pounds in the summer, dropping from about 275 pounds to about 265 pounds, and he worked constantly on technique. All the while, he preserved his work ethic.
"(Defensive end coach Jon) Fabris worked with him and he worked, worked, worked until he got not only good at it but great at it,'' Richt said. "He's got great technique and he's got a heart that won't let him quick. I'm just so proud of him.''
In the South Carolina game, Pollack delivered big again on the Gamecocks' final possession, forcing Jenkins to rush his pitch to running back Andrew Pinnock, who fumbled the ball to Georgia.
"On that last drive, three plays in a row (South Carolina) used three different right tackles,'' Richt said. "Basically they fired one tackle) when he got beat, brought in another and he got beat and they fired him and put a third guy in. ... That's a pretty big compliment to what was going on in that game.''
Despite his success and honors this week, the player who talks trash in practice is keeping a low profile off the field.
Said Pollack: "It's not about (awards). It's about winning.''
And finally, after a lifetime of being moved from position to position, Pollack can concentrate on winning at defensive end.
"I'm confident there now,'' he said. "It's a lot like defensive tackle.
It's football. Football is football. You line up and hit the guy in front of you.''
And Pollack keeps hitting until the game is over.
Charles Odum is the beat writer for Dawg Post in Athens. He has over 20 years of experience covering Georgia football. He can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com
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