29: Freddie Gilbert, Defensive Tackle #90 (1980 – 1983)
After playing both offense and defense during his high school days in Griffin, Freddie Gilbert only wanted to play on the defensive line after coming to Georgia in 1980. Despite his size (only 185 pounds), he earned a starting position as a freshman that fall. Georgia would be on its way to a national championship, but without a key play by Gilbert, they may have never made it.
Georgia was undefeated and looking to wrap up a perfect SEC season with a victory over the Tigers. Auburn came out wearing orange jerseys and was able to keep up with the top ranked Bulldogs until the second half. Instead of Herschel Walker, it was another freshman making a big play that day for the Dawgs:
Georgia would go onto win the game, 31-21. For the season, Freddie Gilbert had two sacks and returned to Athens to help Georgia defend its national championship the next fall.
For his sophomore season, Gilbert increased his weight from 185 to 215, but was able to keep his speed. He became a force on the Georgia line, constantly putting pressure on the opponent’s quarterback. He increased his sack total to 6 and Georgia won its second consecutive SEC Championship. 1982 would see Gilbert once again increase his sack total but also become one of the leading tacklers on the team. In addition to 7 sacks he also had 77 tackles and was named to the first team All-SEC. After the departure of Herschel Walker, Georgia failed to win the SEC for the first time in three years in 1983, but Freddie Gilbert still lead a Georgia squad that was able to defeat Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Gilbert was named the permanent captain and led the team in sacks with 11. He also finished third on the team in tackles with 100 for the season and was once again named to the All-SEC team. Following the season, he was named an All-American at defensive tackle.
During his four-year career as a starter for Georgia, Gilbert racked up 26 career sacks and 233 career tackles. He followed in Herschel Walker’s footsteps by playing in the USFL following college. He eventually played in the NFL and ended his career with the Denver Broncos.