Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 67 Days to Go

67) Theron Sapp, FB/LB #40 (1956-1958)

Theron Sapp, a Damn Good Dawg, is one of the true old school legends of UGA Football. The 'Drought-Breaker" as he would become known later in his career, was born in Dublin, GA and came to Athens from Macon's Lanier High School. He sat out his first year in 1954 due to a vertebrae injury that doctors told him would never allow him to play football again. His neck eventually healed and he became the starting fullback for Coach Wally Butts in 1957 and 1958, earning All-SEC and Team Captain honors during his senior season.

However, his greatest moment would come during his Junior season (1957) against the hated Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. As it has been well documented, Sapp recovered a fumble during the third quarter of play and then led the Bulldogs down the field, scoring the game's only TD as UGA ended a 8 year fun of futility against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia had not scored a touchdown against Tech since 1953 and the Bulldogs would defeat the Jackets again in 1958, 16-3, behind the legs and will of Sapp. His #40 was retired shortly after his collegiate playing career ended in March of 1959 before a 7 year NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers.

At that point, Sapp was just the third player in UGA history to have his number retired and perhaps the greatest complement on his play and what it meant to UGA fans was summed up by Tech's own Bobby Dodd, "Walker won the national championship for Georgia (1980) and was awarded the Heisman trophy (1982) but to older Bulldogs who suffered through the 1950s, Sapp's breaking the drought was greater. He silenced eight years of bragging from Tech students and alumni. Breaking the drought was a remarkable achievement." Sapp finished his career with only 1,269 yards on 258 carries, but one carry on a cold November afternoon in Atlanta in all Bulldog fans needed to last a lifetime.

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