Historical Player of the Week 1: Herschel Walker

One of my favorite things about football is the different varieties of people you always come across.

 

One of those interesting characters would be Herschel Walker.

 

An Author could write an entire book or more about Herschel Walker, but this will be brief.

Herschel Walker was a simple country boy from Wrightsville, Georgia. Hershel was obviously an outstanding athlete from day one putting up big rushing numbers in high school. For Johnson County High, Herschel Walker rushed for 6,137 and an incredible 86 TDs.

His senior year, in 1979, Walker rushed for an astounding 3,179 yards leading Johnson County to a state football championship.

Walker was also a track and field star leading his team to a state championship in track and field as well. He not only won the sprints, but he also put up big numbers in the discus.

To top all of that off, Walker was  the Valedictorian of his senior class. It was the smallest classification in the state of Georgia, but still Herschel Walker was basically unstoppable in high school.

 

Obviously, every college in the country wanted Hershel Walker to play college ball at their school.

There was quite a war to sign Walker. A coach from Georgia pretty much lived in Wrightsville until he got Herschel Walker to sign with the Bulldogs.

They say that Herschel Walker changed the way recruiting is done for high school football. I am not so sure about that, but he was probably one of the all time most coveted recruits in the history of the sport.

Signing Walker made Georgia almost an instant contender for national honors.

Georgia Bulldog legend Vince Dooley was in Athens at the time as the head football coach. It wasn’t Dooley’s intention of playing Herschel Walker a lot as a freshman.

Georgia was losing 9-0 to Tennessee in their first game, Dooley put Walker in and he never looked back. Georgia came back to win 16-15 over Tennessee and a star was born.

Hershel Walker wound up rushing for 1616 yards as a true freshman and the Bulldogs won the National championship finishing 12-0

In 1979, before Walker’s arrival, Georgia went 6-5. Now, that’s what I call a difference maker.

In 1981, Georgia lost to Clemson and then later to Pittsburgh and Dan Marino and finished 10-2. Herschel still managed a rather incredible season and rushed for 1,891 yards.

In 1982, Herschel had a great season and rushed for 1,752 yards. His team went 11-0 and played Penn State for the National Championship in the Sugar Bowl. Penn State had Todd Blackledge at QB and Curt Warner at RB and managed to squeak by the Bulldogs, 27-23 to win the National Title. The Georgia Bulldogs finished the 1982 season at 11-1.

 

Herschel Walker won the Heisman Trophy in 1982

Then, he changed college football forever. For guys like me that prefer the college game to the NFL, it was not a good change.

The NFL at that time did not allow Juniors to come out early. But, there was a new Professional Football League called the USFL. Like most of the others, the USFL didn’t last long but they lasted long enough to change the NFL.

The USFL, obviously, would allow players to leave early for the NFL.

Todd Gurley vs Hershel Walker

Herschel Walker became the very first Junior to declare early.

Walker finished with 5,259 career rushing yards. No doubt he would have been the all time rushing record holder if he had stayed in school, breaking Tony Dorsett’s record. But, he chose to take the money and who can blame him.

Herschel Walker was almost one of a kind. He had sprinters speed in a power backs body and may have been the best Running Back in the history of college football.

30 years later, Herschel Walker still looks like he’s 25 years old. He eats right and does thousands of pushups and thousands of situps daily. Never lifted weights in his life, always pushups and situps.

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