One is the NCAA’s all-time winningest quarterback. The other is the University of Georgia’s all-time sack king. And they have been playing football together since they were eight years old.
Well, almost. David Greene, the Bulldogs’ star four-year starting quarterback, and David Pollack, the Bulldogs’ star three-year starting defensive end, have been the best of friends since they were first teammates at that young age.
But after winning five straight Gwinnett County youth league championships, from age 8 to 12, Greene moved from one suburban Atlanta football program, Shiloh, to another, South Gwinnett, where he won an eighth-grade title for his sixth straight championship.
While they remained close friends, Pollack and Greene were estranged on the gridiron throughout high school before reuniting at Georgia, Pollack arriving in Athens one season after Greene.
So do not tell Pollack that he has one more game left with his quarterback buddy.
“This isn’t our last game together,” said Pollack, who, along with Greene, will play his last college game New Year’s Day.
A reporter posed the innocent question Friday, during a teleconference prior to Georgia’s first practice in preparation for its Jan. 1 Outback Bowl matchup with Wisconsin:
Is it going to be kind of sad to play your final game with David Greene?
“Well, this isn’t me and David Greene’s last game together,” Pollack said. “I’m not real worried about it but it’s been awesome. We’ve been playing together since we were young and we’ve got a great relationship and he’s a great person and a great kid and a great role model for kids.”
So how could this not be Pollack’s last game with Greene? Well, the NFL is just around the corner for the senior duo and Pollack feels that the odds are in his favor.
“How many youth league football teams are there in America?” Pollack fired back at the reporter.
“How many youth league teams are there in America?” He said again, in his typical frenetic style—polite, yet rambunctious. “At least a million, right? At least.
“How many college teams are there in Division I football?”
“117,” the reporter responded.
“OK,” Green said, pleased with his quirky use of the Socratic method. “Well, we made it on the same team for those two, I think we can make it on the same team for 32 NFL teams.”
“Is that your goal?” the reporter asked.
“Well, that sounds like it’s pretty logical,” Pollack said.
Pollack’s and Greene’s careers have been intertwined at Georgia. The roommates have thrived, Greene following a redshirt year in 2000, Pollack following his 2001 debut as a defensive tackle.
The accomplishments are almost surreal. Greene has won an incredible 41 games. No previous quarterback in NCAA history had ever won 40 before the left-handed signal-caller burst onto the scene. In his first game as a redshirt freshman, Greene announced his arrival in emphatic fashion, completing his first 11 passes against Arkansas State, before finishing 21 of 29 for 285 yards and two touchdowns. Greene is also the SEC’s all-time leader in passing yards with 11,264.
“I think David’s legacy was just one of a first-class person and a great player who got it done on a consistent basis,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. Richt, in his fourth-year at Georgia, has known only one starting quarterback. “A guy that was a steadying force behind our last four years. I’m sure people will always talk about the 41 wins that he’s had as a starter.”
Pollack, a member of Richt’s first recruiting class, moved from fullback to defensive tackle before finding a home at end, the spring following his freshman year.
“We moved him to defensive end strictly out of necessity,” Richt said. “We didn’t know what to do. We tossed him out there just to see what he can do.”
All Pollack has done in a Georgia uniform is become the school’s all-time leader in sacks (33) and a three-time All American. He recently won an arm load of postseason awards: the Lott Trophy, for the nation’s top student-citizen-athlete, the Lombardi Award, for the nation’s top lineman or linebacker, and the Bednarik Trophy, for the nation’s best defensive player.
“We thought we had a great program guy,” Richt said. “We thought we had a guy who was going to work hard and give you everything he had. We never could have imagined him to be the player that he is today.”
Of all the plaudits, perhaps the most important will come if the Bulldogs beat Wisconsin on New Year’s Day. Then, Pollack and Greene will have led Georgia (9-2) to three consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time since 1980-83.
Of course, they are accustomed to winning, starting with those five straight Gwinnett County youth titles, when they played for David Pollack’s father, Norm Pollack. Greene was the star quarterback back then too. Pollack was a standout running back.
Greene certainly will not be handing off to Pollack in the NFL. But do not insinuate that they are done playing together.
“Would that mean something to you?” the reporter asked Pollack.
“It would be awesome,” Pollack responded. “That’s like saying if you could take your best friend with you to go somewhere you wouldn’t take him. C’mon now.
“Of course it would mean something to me. That would be special. We are going to be together regardless. Whether we are playing on the same team or not we’re going to be seeing each other a lot. I promise you that.”
Greene ready for action
Greene, who sprained his thumb in the Bulldogs’ regular season finale against Georgia Tech, practiced Friday. The expectation is that Greene will be healthy for the bowl game.
“David Greene’s thumb seems to be fine, it’s still a little tender but he says he can grip a ball with it,” Richt said.
“He’d be a concern if he got hit right on the tip of the thumb,” Richt said. “If he just took a normal snap I think he’d be fine.”
New Year’s Day will not be the first time Richt has matched wits with Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez. The two coached against one another in a postseason all-star game last year.
“For the record, I’m 0-1 against coach Alvarez,” Richt said. “We coached against each other in the Gridiron Classic last year. I got to meet him and got to talk to him quite a bit. I like him, he’s definitely no-nonsense about football and the business of coaching, but he’s very personable when you’re not competing against him. He’s done an unbelievable job at Wisconsin compared to what they used to be. Been to a lot of Rose Bowls and won a couple conference championships.”