Defensive End – David Pollack (2001-04) and Will Thompson (2001-05)
David Pollack, perhaps the greatest player to play under Mark Richt, was the catalyst to a defense that allowed only one team to score more than 30 points in his four-year career. Pollack first jumped on the national scene when he made a sack, forced an interception and scored a touchdown-all on the same play against South Carolina in 2002. The play propelled the Dawgs to their first SEC Championship in 20 years. Pollack was the 2002 SEC Player of the Year. The conference also named him its 2004 Defensive Player of the year. In his final season at Georgia, Pollack earned several national awards: the Chuck Bednarik Award (given annually to the top collegiate defensive player), the Ted Hendricks Award (also in 2003, given annually to the top collegiate defensive end), the Lombardi Award (given annually to the top defensive or offensive collegiate lineman who, in addition to outstanding performance and ability, best exemplifies the discipline of Vince Lombardi), and the Lott Trophy (given annually to a defensive player exemplifying integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity). Pollack ended his career a three-time All-American. He is perhaps the most decorated player never to have had his jersey retired at Georgia. He was the 17th overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Will Thompson, Pollack’s sidekick for so many snaps at Georgia, wasn’t so bad himself. Thompson is one of a few players at Georgia to win two SEC Championships during his tenure. Thompson had 37 starts at Georgia – amassing 104 tackles, 14.5 sacks and 25.4 tackles for loss during his career. His play outshined Pollack’s in the 2003 Sugar Bowl, but he suffered a season-ending injury, which kept him out of the 2003 season. That game he had five tackles, two sacks and a tackle for loss.
Defensive Tackle – Johnathon Sullivan (2000-02) and Gerald Anderson (2002-05)
If there was a player more dominant, yet unseen, during the 2002 season it was Johnathon Sullivan, Georgia’s space-eating tackle. Sullivan’s play during that season, as well as the 2001 season, allowed the rest of the defense to be confident about the run being stopped more often than not at the line of scrimmage. Sullivan was the sixth overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.
Much like Sullivan, Gerald Anderson was a major cog in the line of scrimmage for an SEC Championship team. Along with his cohort, Kedric Golston, Anderson was the key to Georgia’s effective run-stopping defense in 2005. The lone game where Georgia gave up huge yardage on the ground that season – in the 2006 Sugar Bowl – was a game Anderson missed.
Defensive Tackle – Kedric Golston (2002-05) and Jeff Owens (2005-09)
Kedric Golston, who survived a horrible car accident before he arrived at Georgia, was, to say the least, a warrior. Ever present in Georgia’s run-stuffing defensive line during the most successful run of the Richt Era (2002-05), Golston would play hurt and fight through double teams to give opponents fits. Golston was the 196th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.
The book is not yet closed on Jeff Owens’ career at Georgia. The Florida native suffered an ACL injury in the first game of the 2008 season and decided to come back for a second senior season in 2009. Still, Owens has been a fixture on the defensive line for Willie Martinez’s defenses. The one year Owens didn’t play, Georgia’s defense struggled to stop the run late in the season. Only time will tell if Owens will effectively recover from his injury, but he has already left his mark in Athens.
Defensive End – Charles Grant (1999-2001) and Quentin Moses (2003-05)
The best NFL defensive end of the Richt Era, Charles Grant started his career playing some running back for Jim Donnan – that ended after he suffered an injury in the Georgia Tech game that season. While Grant was only with Richt for one season, he shined in that time. Grant ended his Georgia career with 136 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 15 sacks. He was the 25th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.
Charles Grant started his college career playing some running back - Quentin Moses started his college career playing basketball. Like Charles, Moses started concentrating on defensive end, and it paid off quickly. After watching David Pollack for a few years, Moses took over the star position at defensive end in 2005. Moses was a beast that year and the next. He ended his Georgia career with 137 tackles, 45 tackles for loss and 25 sacks. Moses was the 65th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.