Former UGA football running back is the greatest back in college football history, but he’s also one of the sports’ most impressive people off the field.
Herschel Walker is one of those once in a lifetime players that most people love, but everyone knows and respects. While many have had the opportunity to watch him play, only a small group of people have ever been lucky enough to meet him in person. Jim Jarrard is one such fan as well as a former UGA football trainer.
Jarrard started his college career playing outside linebacker at Mississippi College. Having grown up in Marietta, Ga. as a diehard Georgia fan, Jarrard eventually made the decision to leave Mississippi College and walk-on at UGA. However…
“After Nat Hudson hit me a few times at practice,” Jarrad said. “I understood the difference between UGA and Mississippi College.”
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Nat Hudson, if you’re not familiar with the name, is the 6’3, 260-lb. offensive lineman made the block that allowed Buck Belue to make his famous throw to Lindsay Scott. “Run, Lindsay” could not have happened without Nat Hudson.
Shortly after that, Jarrard decided to be a trainer instead of a walk-on. While working as a trainer under Warren Morris, Jarrard was responsible for hauling ice and helping with the players’ treatment after practice and games, such as taping up hands and ankles. While he was only there for a year, Jarrard “loved every aspect of practice” and said it was an amazing experience.
The Georgia team that year was loaded with talent, but none quite as noteworthy as Hershel Walker. Even though he later coached at Georgia Southern and two other colleges, no running back has impressed Jarrad as much as Walker.
“Mr. Walker was the most physical running back I have ever seen,” he said. “Bo Jackson was the only guy who was close but he wasn’t as good as Hershel.”
Several years after his time at Georgia, Jarrard was coaching for the Barons, a team in the Minor League Football System in Charlotte, North Carolina. While reading the newspaper one day, he saw that the Minnesota Vikings were going to be in town for a practice on their way to a game.
Knowing that Walker was on the team, Jarrard decided “on a whim” to call the hotel and ask for Hershel’s room. When they said they would connect him, he “about fell out of [his] chair.” Jarrard was even more surprised when Walker picked up and remembered him.
“I stumbled around explaining I was a student trainer when he played for the Dawgs and asked if I could come watch practice the next day,” he said. “Hershel said, ‘Yes, I remember you. Meet me at the locker room door and we can walk in together.’ That’s exactly what we did and I was on the sideline watching Hershel and the Vikings practice that day. A day I will never forget.”
And that’s just another reason why Georgia fans love and admire Hershel Walker— he is just as amazing off the field as he was on it.
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