22: Ben Zambiasi, Linebacker #44 (1974-1977)
"In all my years of coaching, I never coached a more intense and tenacious football player than Ben Zambiasi." – Coach Vince Dooley
In 1974, a lightly recruited fullback named Ben Zambiasi came to The University of Georgia. The undersized player (195 pounds) from Macon would move to linebacker that fall where he played sparingly during his freshman season. In 1975, Zambiasi became one of 6 sophomores starting on Defensive Coordinator Erk Russell’s defense. The group, which Erk nicknamed the Junkyard Dawgs, would be led by Zambiasi over the next three years.
In his first season as a starter, Zambiasi tied a school record with 148 tackles and earned second team All-SEC honors. The following season, he turned in an All-American season leading the Bulldogs to a Sugar Bowl birth against the Pittsburgh Panthers. While the Dawgs would come up short against the eventual National Champions, Zambiasi enjoyed a great game recording 15 total tackles. During his senior season in 1977, the Bulldogs would struggle to a 5-6 record, however this did not deter Zambiasi from having a record setting season. He tallied a total of 177 tackles and was named first team All-SEC and All-American.
Zambiasi was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1978, but found his true professional football home in Canada. He spent 11 seasons in the CFL, where he was a six-time All-Star, runner up for the Rookie of the Year (1978) and won defensive MVP in 1979. Here are some highlights from his CFL career, for which he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004:
During his career at Georgia, he led the team in tackles each of his last three seasons. He is the only Georgia player to ever lead the team in tackles three times and remains Georgia’s all-time leader in total tackles with 475.