59: Richard Tardits, Linebacker #92 (1985 – 1988)
“Ain’t no way this kid’s going to learn to play football.” – Coach Vince Dooley
The story of Georgia legend Richard Tardits reads like one that you would see in an inspirational sports film like Miracle or The Rookie. At the age of 19, Tardits came from France to August to visit some family members. During that time, he decided to attend college in America and ended up at The University of Georgia. A skilled rugby player who had been a member of the French junior national team, Tardits decided to walk-on to an open tryout for the football team in the spring of 1985. Despite his clear lack of knowledge of the game, Dooley saw potential in the physically gifted Tardits, and offered him a position on special teams.
During spring practice in 1986, Dooley gave him a chance to play on defense. The gamble paid off, as Tardits had a knack for tackling players in the backfield and earned him a starting position at linebacker. He would earn the nickname “Le Sack” as he led the Dawgs in sacks with 6 in the 1986 season. During the 1987, he would once again lead the team in sacks with 10, including 3 in the victory over Florida. He spoke about his performance in that game in the interview below:
During his senior season in 1988, Tardits tied (at the time) Georgia’s record for sacks in a season with 12. This included a four sack performance against Texas Christian University. He was named to the All-SEC squad following the season. “Le Sack” finished his career as Georgia’s all-time leader in sacks with 29 (a record later broken by David Pollack). He is currently 7th all time in the SEC in sacks. After playing in the NFL with the New England Patriots, Tardits continued his athletic career in the sport that was his first love, rugby. He played professionally in Europe before returning to the US to play for the United States National team. Here is a further look at the career of Richard Tardits (sorry for the video quality):