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September 8, 2015

Here's to "New" Beginnings

With the appearances made by Virginia-transfer Greyson Lambert and UAB-transfer Jake Ganus last Saturday, a historical milestone was reached in UGA football history. 

Lambert became only the second Bulldog starting quarterback in history who had previously played at another Division I program, and the first to throw a touchdown. Ganus, who is the first Georgia player to have transferred from a defunct program since Terrell Davis left Long Beach State for Athens following the 1991 season, started Saturday at one of the inside linebacker positions.

So, when was the last time the Bulldogs had two transfers arrive from other programs the same year while making immediate impact like Ganus and Lambert? 

Never—nothing even close has ever occurred in the annals of UGA football.  

A little more than four years ago, I posted Georgia's All-Time Transfers, or one-time Bulldogs who left the program for other schools. On the contrary, in the spirit of new beginnings for Ganus and Lambert, here's the Bulldogs' All-Time Arrivals team (11 position players + a kicker + some reserves + a pair of ironic honorable mentions, while excluding players from JUCOs, prep schools, and those pre-WWI players who played football at UGA while attending, say, law school after being an undergrad somewhere else):

Back- STEVE ROGERS (1977): Hailing from Jacksonville, Fla., Rogers transferred to UGA following a freshman season at the Naval Academy in 1975. As a reserve for the Midshipmen, the dual-threat quarterback was responsible for a couple of touchdowns, and was even the team's primary kick returner in the Army-Navy game—"the greatest experience of my life," according to Rogers after his transfer. Following a couple of unfortunate scrapes with the law while sitting out a season in Athens, Rogers was tangled in a quarterback competition in 1977 even more complicated than the Bulldogs' three-way race in 2015.

Rogers is one of the few Georgia players who had a newspaper article dedicated to him written by the late, great Lewis Grizzard—"The Legend of Steve Alan Rogers," which forecasted him being named the Bulldogs' starting quarterback a little over a week prior to the start of the season. In the end, Rogers was the team's second-stringer, but made starts against Alabama and Auburn before ending the '77 campaign sidelined with an injury. After a move to defensive back, Rogers returned to Coach Dooley's doghouse after another disciplinary issue, and was dismissed from the program. 
• Reserve Back: safety Chip Miller (Appalachian State '71-'73, Georgia '74-'75)

Back- TERRELL DAVIS (1992-1994): Prior to the 49ers dropping football, Davis rushed for 262 yards in just five games as a freshman at LBSU in 1991. For three years at Georgia, despite playing behind Garrison Hearst for a season, at times being injured, and perhaps underused, Davis rushed for 1,657 yards, averaged 5.2 yards per carry, had five 100-yard rushing games, caught 46 passes, and scored 18 touchdowns. A mere seven-season NFL career which is borderline Pro Football Hall of Fame-worthy, Davis' 7,607 rushing yards for an NFL career by a former Bulldog is second only behind Herschel Walker; his three AP first-team All-NFL selections is tied for the most with Champ Bailey and Richard Seymour.
• Reserve Back: tailback Olandis Gary (Marshall '94-'95, Georgia '97-'98)

Back- VERRON HAYNES (1999-2001): Arriving from the Bronx, Haynes rushed for over 300 yards at Western Kentucky as a true freshman in 1997. After transferring to Georgia and sitting out the '98 season, the fullback seldom carried the ball, but instead blocked for those that did, during the final two years of the Coach Donnan era. However, with the start of the Coach Richt regime, Haynes' role in the offense increased to where he averaged 163 rushing yards per game as the 2001 team's starting tailback the final four contests of the season. As a senior, including Georgia's bowl appearance, Haynes rushed for a team-high 823 yards, caught 20 passes and scored 10 touchdowns, including the historical "Hobnail Boot" reception, upsetting Tennessee in Knoxville.

Back- MARK VINCENT (1987): When the SMU football program was dealt the "death penalty" by the NCAA in 1986, about 50 Mustangs on scholarship found new homes, including Vincent and Shelly Anderson (see below) at Georgia. Vincent, a Texas native and two-year starter at cornerback for SMU, immediately made an impact in 1987 as a standout in the Bulldogs' secondary. In what would be his lone season at Georgia, Vincent intercepted three passes in his first five games (after intercepting just one pass in three seasons at SMU), and was honored as a member of the defense's distinguished "Junkyard Dog Club" by the fourth game of the year. Starting every game for the Bulldogs at right cornerback, Vincent finished his senior campaign with 59 tackles, including three for loss, and four PBUs. 

Notably, while transitioning from SMU to UGA in early August of 1987, Vincent said, "I'm still 100 percent SMU, but I had to find a new place to play until things get settled down [at SMU]. ... I plan on going down there [after one year at UGA] and helping get the [football] program back on its feet the right way." Only two months later, Vincent had already experienced a "slight" change of heart, demonstrating that attending the University of Georgia sure does seem to have an effect on people: "...my No. 1 choice for law school is Georgia. I love it here. I don't even think about SMU now. It's gone better than anything I could have expected. I wish I would have been here the whole time."
• Reserve Back: cornerback Dale Williams (The Citadel '77, Georgia '79-'81)

Receiver- JIMMY ORR (1955-1957): Orr started off at Wake Forest before transferring to Clemson to play basketball, In the spring of 1955, the speedster from Seneca, S.C. decided he wanted to play football, so he transferred againthis time, to Georgia. In three seasons as a Bulldog, despite playing halfback (and catching just 42 career passes for 701 yards and 5 touchdowns), Orr remarkably led the SEC in receiving as both a sophomore and senior. From 1955-1957, he also rushed for nearly 300 yards, averaged more than 22 yards per kickoff return and 18 yards per punt return (and a touchdown), intercepted a pass on defense, and averaged more than 37 yards per punt on 75 career kicks. 

The 291st pick of the 1957 NFL Draft, Orr was the 1958 NFL Rookie of the Year as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and one of Johnny Unitas' favorite targets as a standout end for the Baltimore Colts during the 1960s. Orr was essentially tops in all career receiving marks for an NFL career by a former Bulldog before being surpassed by Hines Ward.

End- BEN WATSON (2001-2003): Watson transferred to Georgia after catching 8 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown for Duke in 1999. As a member of Coach Richt's first three Bulldog teams, the Rock Hill, S.C. native made a combined 65 receptions for 852 yards and 6 touchdowns. After earning All-SEC honors as a senior in 2003, Watson was a first-round selection of the New England Patriots. Appearing in his 12th year in the league, and the third with the New Orleans Saints, Watson enters the 2015 season with the fifth-most catches (360) and fifth-most  touchdown receptions (32) in an NFL career by a former Bulldog.
• Reserve End: tight end Jermaine Wiggins (Marshall '94-'95, Georgia '97-'98)

Lineman- ALEC MILLEN (1991-1992): Signing with North Carolina out of the Marist School in Atlanta, the 6-foot-7 Millen was a member of consecutive 1-10 Tar Heel teams (1988-1989), starting at left guard in '89. Transferring and then sitting out Georgia's lowly 4-7 campaign of '90, he was a starting offensive tackle for Bulldog teams in 1991-1992 which, ironically for Millen, had a combined 19-5 record. After earning first-team All-SEC recognition as a senior, he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers early in the seventh round of the NFL Draft, but would never see the field in a regular-season game. Today, Millen is an associate pastor at a church in Pennsylvania.

Lineman- DAVE LLOYD (1957-1958): A center for Texas Tech in 1955, Lloyd was lured to Georgia by line coach Wyatt Posey, who had coached the big Texan in Lubbock before accepting an assistant job in Athens. After being a member of the Bulldogs' B-team (i.e., redshirted) for a year, Lloyd was arguably Georgia's most valuable player during the 1957-1958 seasons, often playing nearly entire games as the team's starting center, linebacker, and the kicker on kickoffs. In a time when collegiate athletes could leave school before their final year if selected in the NFL Draft following their fourth season, Lloyd decided to forego his senior campaign at Georgia after being picked 47th overall in the draft by Cleveland. Playing for the Browns, Eagles, and Lions, the Red Raider-turned-Bulldog had a successful 12-season career in the NFL.

Lineman- SHELLY ANDERSON (1987-1988): In three consecutive seasons at two schools, lineman Anderson started at three positions along the offensive line, but never at two different ones the same year. Prior to transferring to Georgia along with Vincent, Anderson started two games for SMU at right guard in 1986 after solely playing a reserve role as a freshman. As a Bulldog, he started one game at left tackle in 1987 before starting every game as a senior the next season at left guard.  

Lineman- AL FRANCIS (1957): A reserve center for Notre Dame in 1955, Francis, along with teammate halfback/end Dick Wilkins, decided to leave the Fighting Irish for Athens. After sitting out a season, Francis served as the Bulldogs' backup center in 1957 behind Dave Lloyd.
• Reserve Lineman: OL George Mrvos (Penn State '84, Georgia '87)

End- RUSTY RUSSELL (1973-1975): The son of legendary UGA defensive coordinator Erk Russell, Rusty began his collegiate career at Florida State, where he was a linebacker for the Seminoles in 1972, but did not letter. Walking on at Georgia, Russell was one of the Bulldogs' leading tacklers in each of his three seasons in Athens, while starting at three different positions: DT in '73, DE in '74, and returning to linebacker in '75. As a member of his father's "Junkyard Dogs" defensive unit as a senior, Russell was third on the squad with 90 tackles.
• Reserve End: Dick Wilkins (Notre Dame '55, Georgia '57)

Kicker- TODD PETERSON (1991-1992): The Valdosta native was used sparingly as a placekicker at the Naval Academy in 1988-1989. After transferring to Georgia and sitting out a season, Peterson missed five of his first eight field goal attempts as a Bulldog, and was benched. Regardless, his senior campaign of 1992 jump-started a brilliant placekicking career. After making 13 of 16 field goals in his final year at Georgia, Peterson kicked for six different teams in a dozen seasons in the NFL, which resulted in him being one of currently only three ex-Bulldogs to score 1,000+ career points in the league.

HONORABLE MENTION: In early January of 1987, just after Wichita State had dropped its football program, former-Shocker players defensive back Derrick Richey and fullback Eric Gilstrap drove 850 miles to Athens after being lured by the Bulldogs to transfer. However, upon their arrival to UGA after the rather lengthy trip, the two players were denied admission because of a problem with their transferable hours.

"We're going to take steps to see something like that never happens again," said Coach Dooley after the players were turned away, prompting Richey to declare, "Georgia should have checked that out before recruiting us."

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