FIRST PERSON | TIMOTHY A. KEADLE

As told to Michelle Hiskey, for the AJC

Timothy A. Keadle of Athens, a 1978 graduate of the University of Georgia and president of its alumni association, says the school’s 285,000 former students have a hard time picking the top player of all time. He does, too, and this is why.

I have watched the Bulldogs my entire life. I break down the best players in two eras: players who came before coach Vince Dooley and those in the modern era. In the modern era, I picked out the players who came to mind each decade.

In the previous era, Charley Trippi, who I still see at the Athens Touchdown Club, was hard-nosed and played the game with great energy and commitment, with an incredible ability to move side-to-side with immense acceleration. Fran Tarkenton, the scrambling quarterback, had the longevity and creativity in the pros. I did not personally know Frank Sinkwich, but he was a Heisman Trophy winner and fantastic player.

In the Dooley era, players in the 1960s include Bill Stanfill, who ruined Steve Spurrier’s great season, and Jake Scott, both of whom later played on the Miami Dolphins team that went 17-0. Tommy Lyons at center played with grit and strength, and other great players were linebacker Tommy Lawhorne and defensive lineman George Patton.

In the 1970s, when we had the veer offense, there was running quarterback Andy Johnson, who led a great comeback against Georgia Tech; linebacker Ben Zambiasi, who was undersized but was mean and would fight like a circular saw; and Willie McClendon, who had some incredible runs against Kentucky.

In the 1980s, there was Herschel Walker, who continues to have such a great reputation on and off the field. He had unbelievable straight-line speed for a man of his size. Unheralded players in that decade include Terry Hoage, who had a long pro career with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In the 1990s, there was Garrison Hearst — his unbelievable quickness and acceleration made him most difficult to tackle. Quarterback Eric Zeier was tremendous at quarterback, even without the prototypical NFL size. He had the arm strength.

In the 2000s, there were boys from Gwinnett County like David Greene, who set college football’s all-time winning record (since broken), and David Pollack, who made plays no one thought could be made. Pollack had endless enthusiasm.

Among us now are some of the best. Aaron Murray is breaking SEC records. Todd Gurley is a great running back with many great moments ahead of him.

I didn’t look at any list of the greatest players when I picked these names. So many deserve mention because of their significant contributions. If you called other Georgia alumni, you might get an entirely different list, with Herschel Walker the one on everyone’s list.