Former Georgia Bulldogs defensive back and 2016 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame Scott Woerner will be in Athens this week for his On Campus Salute presented by Fidelity Investments®. Woerner will return to Sanford Stadium and be honored with an on-field introduction to the Bulldog faithful and will accept a Hall of Fame plaque that will remain on permanent display at the institution.
Scott Woerner Bio:
- Named First-Team All-America, All-Conference and country’s top punt returner in 1980.
- Registered 190 yards in kickoff returns against Kentucky in 1977, which remains a Georgia single-game record.
- Holds career record in punt return yards at Georgia (1,077).
- Played for College Football Hall of Fame coach Vince Dooley.
- Becomes the 13th Bulldog player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
Scott Woerner grew up in the state of Texas before his father pursued a better job in Georgia and moved the family there. Still, Woerner had a chance to play for Coach Darrell Royal at the University of Texas.
“I wanted to play for the man,” Woerner said, reflecting on his official recruiting visit to Austin in early December 1976. “He gets up on the podium and resigns (in the locker room after the Arkansas game). I couldn’t believe it. When I am on the plane coming home, there’s no doubt in my mind now the only other person I felt that way about was Vince Dooley.”
Woerner, who played quarterback and defensive back in high school at Jonesboro, Georgia, went on to play four seasons for Dooley at Georgia. He becomes the fourth person associated with Georgia’s 1980 national championship team to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, joining Dooley (1994), running back Herschel Walker (1999) and defensive back Terry Hoage (2000).
“On our undefeated National Championship team of 1980, he was to our defense and kicking game what Herschel Walker was to our offense that year,” Dooley said. “Scott was one of the most versatile players I ever coached. His secondary play in the national championship game against Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl was one of the greatest performances I have ever seen.”
Woerner’s freshman season at Georgia corresponded with Dooley’s only losing season in 25 years as head coach in Athens. “That is when (I developed) my return skills as a freshman, punt returning and having a great time, but we were getting our ass whipped,” Woerner said of a 5-6 season.
But as Woerner intercepted four passes his sophomore season, four more as a junior, and then five as senior, Georgia climbed into the national spotlight. He had a key breakup and pass interception to seal the victory over Notre Dame in his final collegiate game, helping clinch the national title. Woerner says his family is responsible for his kick return prowess.
“I give credit to being a returner to my big brother, Kent,” Woerner said of a sibling who played at Furman. “I caught hundreds and hundreds of punts while my father was instructing on the other side. Kent was a fabulous punter… big bullets coming down from the sky. He would turn them over, one after another. Anyway, after you catch that many, going to college and catching a punt is nothing.”
Woerner’s best overall game may have been in 1980 against Clemson when he had a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 98-yard interception return that set up a touchdown in Georgia’s 20-16 victory.
“(There were) a multitude of games won by someone making a play; somebody stepped up and won a football game,” Woerner said of the Bulldogs’ 12-0 season in 1980. “There were a bunch of games we probably should not have won. And my game was the Clemson game.”
After his playing days ended, Woerner spent a career teaching physical education, and he is now semi-retired in Rabun County, Ga. He has been very active in the community, volunteering with the American Heart Association, Northeast Georgia Food Bank, Shepherd Spinal Center and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.