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Georgia Football Recruiting Class of 1980

In the 2016 college football season, the Clemson Tigers won the national title after last winning it in 1981. The Georgia Bulldogs last won a national championship in 1980 and they have a shot of winning it in the 2017 season.

In honor of that 1980 national championship, the 1980 recruiting class was a large reason why they won it all that season.

Thanks to SicEmDawgs.com there is an exact listing of the Georgia Bulldogs 1980 recruiting class.

* Larry Cage – Kingsport, Tennessee 6-2, 240 OL/DL

* Gary Cantrell – Atlanta, Georgia 6-1, 190 LB

* Roy Curtis – Dalton, Georgia 6-3, 230 OT/DT

* Charlie Dean – Athens, Georgia 6-2, 190 QB/DB

* Stan Dooley – Toccoa, Georgia 6-3, 190 LB

* Joe Douglas – Waycross, Georgia 6-2, 210 OT

* Landy Ewings – Tifton, Georgia 6-3, 255 DL

* Freddie Gilbert – Griffin, Georgia 6-4, 215 DE

* Warren Gray – Fayetteville, Georgia 6-3, 240 DL

* Joe Happe – Jenkintown, Pennsylvania 6-3, 240 OL

* Jimmy Harper – Eastman, Georgia 6-5, 260 OT

* Terry Hoage – Huntsville, Texas 6-3, 190 QB/DB

* Winford Hood – Atlanta, Georgia 6-3, 235 OT

* Eric Jarvis – Marietta, Georgia 6-2, 210 TE/DE

* Daryll Jones – Columbus, Georgia 6-2, 188 QB

* Mike Jones – Lincolnton, Georgia 6-1, 200 LB/FB

* Clarence Kay – Seneca, South Carolina 6-3, 215 TE

* Tommy Lewis – Atlanta, Georgia 6-1, 195 QB

* Jay McAllister – Anderson, South Carolina 6-2, 235 OT/DT

* Mark McKay – Seneca, California 6-2, 190 QB

* Todd Milton – Albany, Georgia 6-2, 260 OL

* Tim Reynolds – Rome, Georgia 6-0, 230 OL/DL

* Melvin Simmons – Williston, Florida 6-0, 185 RB/CB

* Charles Smith – Rome, Georgia 6-2, 230 C

* Tommy Thurson – Jacksonville, Florida 6-2, 220 LB

* Herschel Walker – Wrightsville, Georgia 6-2, 215 RB

* Mike Weaver – Haines City, Florida 6-3, 290 OT/DL

* Scott Williams – Charlotte, North Carolina 6-3, 197 FB

* Barry Young – Swainsboro, Georgia 6-1, 210 RB

This was one of the nation’s all time best recruiting classes when all was said and done. There weren’t a lot of people rating the classes back in those years, but a man from Dearborn, Michigan started a recruiting service back in the 1970’s supposedly in his garage. Terranova’s business was primitive and he had the Georgia Bulldogs rated 10th best in the country. I’m not even sure how he made his lists and he surely didn’t watch any of these recruits play.

This class helped Georgia go 12-0 in 1980 and win the national title. In the 1981 season, the Bulldogs won 10 games and lost 2 with the losses coming to national champion Clemson and to Pittsburgh in the Sugar Bowl.

In 1982, the Georgia Bulldogs went 11-1 only losing to Penn State in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship. 1983 saw the Bulldogs produce a 10-1-1 record which was made better by upsetting Texas in the Cotton Bowl which allowed Miami to win their first national title.

Overall, this class produced a very impressive 43-4-1 record with 3 SEC championships. It’s really hard to say this wasn’t an outstanding recruiting class.

First and foremost in this class was the legendary Herschel Walker from Wrightsville, Georgia. Walker was the top recruit in the country and was an instant impact at Georgia making a difference in his first game at Tennessee. In that game, conservative coach Vince Dooley finally agreed to place

Walker in after his offense was struggling, and he made one of his more famous plays by running over the Volunteer’s safety Bill Bates for his first college touchdown.

Herschel Walker made all the difference with this team. The Bulldogs were 6-5 in 1979 and improved to 12-0 with Walker and his 1980 class.

Walker was the most dominating college football player of his time and if he had returned for his senior season he would hold every college rushing record. As a true freshman in 1980, Herschel ran for 1,616 yards and 15 touchdowns. He rambled for 1,891 yards and 18 touchdowns as a sophomore in 1981. He won his Heisman Trophy in 1982 with 1,752 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Hershel Walker became the first player to really leave early when he left for the United State Football League after this season which forced the NFL to change their rules.

There was not a ranking system around in 1980. If there had been, Herschel Walker would have easily been a 5 star recruit. Defensive back recruit Terry Hoage, from Huntsville, Texas would have been unranked. Coming out of high school, nobody wanted Hoage. At the last minute, Georgia came in and offered and the rest is history. Hoage was a team leader and a two time consensus All American in 1982 and 1983. I wrote about Hoage previously here: Terry Hoage

Georgia coach Vince Dooley called Hoage the best defensive player he ever coached.

But, wait, there’s more.

Defensive End Freddie Gilbert was a great player and a 3 year starter for the Bulldogs. Finishing up his career at Georgia with 26 quarterback sacks, Gilbert was a two time All SEC selection and in his senior year of 1983, Gilbert was an All American. In 1983, Gilbert finished with 11 sacks and actually had 5 against Temple in one game.

Tommy Thurson at linebacker was one of the Bulldog’s best ever. He finished his career in Athens with almost 500 career tackles, and he was a 3 time All SEC performer. He was one of the leaders of a very salty Georgia defense along with Terry Hoage and Freddie Gilbert.

Mike Weaver started on the offensive line in 1982 and then moved over to defensive tackle in 1983. That’s something of a rare move to take an offensive lineman and make him a defensive lineman. It’s usually done the opposite way with the defensive lineman moving over to the offensive side of the football. But, Weaver was huge for his day and they obviously needed a run stopper. He allegedly recorded 85 tackles in 1983 which is awesome for a down lineman.

Warren Gray, from Fayetteville, Georgia was recruited as a defensive lineman, but worked his way into the starting lineup in the offensive line where he helped paved the way for Herschel and quarterback Buck Belue.

Joe Happe, who was from Pennsylvania, provided quality offensive line depth.

Offensive lineman Jimmy Harper was All SEC in 1981 and 1982 he paved the way for Herschel

Walker to win the Heisman Trophy.

Winford Hood was another starter up front and later played 5 years in the NFL.

Charlie Dean was a back up for most of his career. He played sparingly until his senior year and then he started. Against UCLA the dogs had a 12-8 lead late in the game and the Bruins with quarterback Rick Neuheisel were driving. Dean picked off Neuheisel and returned it for a touchdown to seal the win.

Daryll Jones was another defensive back in this class.

Clarence Kay played tight end for the Georgia Bulldogs and then he played 9 seasons with the Denver Broncos of the NFL.

Melvin Simmons backed Herschel Walker one season and moved to wide receiver in 1982 where he was one of the top pass catchers on the team. Georgia did not throw the ball much in those years, but guys like Simmons helped take the pressure off of Herschel Walker in his Heisman season.

Scott Williams played fullback and Barry Young was one of Herschel Walker’s replacements when he left for the USFL after the 1982 season.