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Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Recruiting flashback: Scott Woerner

By David Ching

Editor’s note: As we approach national signing day and consider the future of Georgia’s football program, we’ll also look backward into the Bulldogs’ recruiting history. Over the next few weeks, we’ll talk with several former Georgia standouts about their experiences as recruits. Today we feature the multitalented Scott Woerner, who was an All-America defensive back and kick returner for Georgia’s 1980 national championship team.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Texas native Scott Woerner almost never became “Woerner the Returner” of Georgia’s championship lore.

He had every intention of playing college football for his home-state Longhorns before legendary coach Darrell Royal resigned while Woerner was on his visit to the Austin campus. That opened the door for Vince Dooley and Georgia to swoop in and secure the services of a player who would play a key role in the secondary and as a kick returner for Dooley’s teams of the late 1970s and the national championship team of 1980.

While visiting Athens for this year's annual Countdown to Kickoff, Woerner reflected on his time as a recruit and how he wound up choosing Georgia with DawgNation’s David Ching. Here are some of his recollections:

Q: When you look back on being a recruit, what do you remember about those days?

A: Coach Dooley coming to the high school. Walking in an empty gym and him being the only one sitting in there was rather intimidating. It really was. Somebody says, ‘Scott, they need you up here’ and you walk into a gymnasium and Coach Dooley’s sitting on the bench and he says, ‘Yeah, I wanted to come down here and make sure that you realize that we want you to come to Georgia.’ I wasn’t going to Georgia. I was going to the University of Texas.

And I fly out to Texas for my visit and Darrell Royal resigns the night I’m out there. Man, I’m in the locker room with him sitting in a chair with him and he’s talking about running the option. I was a quarterback and we’re talking about the option and he’s saying, ‘Yeah, when we pitch it, you roll your thumb under’ and that was interesting. I’m originally from Texas and as a little boy born in Baytown, I wanted to be a Longhorn. So when he resigned, I get on the airplane and I’m coming back just shocked, like, ‘What am I going to do? Where am I going to go?’ The only other guy that had that type of quality as far as I was concerned was Vince Dooley. So that’s kind of how I ended up at Georgia.

Q: How quickly did Dooley show up after you visited and Darrell Royal resigned?

A: Well, I went to a banquet. I flew back on the weekend and it was like a day or two, I ended up at a banquet and Coach Dooley was there and I walked up to him and told him, ‘Coach Dooley, I want to go to the University of Georgia,’ and it was like a day or two later. The rest is history.

Q: Where did you go to high school?

A: Jonesboro. I played for Weyman Sellers, who was a ’47 graduate. Coach Sellers brought me up here one day when I was a junior. He put me in his Cadillac and rode me up here and we went to a game, sat in the end zone. That was my first Georgia experience was the day he brought me to a game. I had never really considered it much. Unlike a lot of these guys nowadays where they’re inundated from little on, the thought of going to any major college to play a sport -- that was the farthest thing from my mind ever. It never really occurred to me that I would be good enough to play, let alone get a scholarship and play at a major college like Georgia until I was a senior.

Q: Was there a point where you realized that it was a real possibility?

A: Back then they sent you letters in the mail. I would get Auburn and Tennessee and Alabama and Bear Bryant called on the telephone one night and I couldn’t understand a word he said. But the guy that was his quarterback coach is now the man over there. Mal Moore was the quarterback coach and he rolls into the living room and sets a projector up and starts showing film and says, ‘Here’s our offense. This is what you do every day. This is what we do.’ He said, ‘You come to Alabama and you’re going to be playing quarterback.’

Q: When was it you got your first offer and who was it from?

A: I don’t remember. Most of the schools in the SEC -- Tennessee and Auburn and Alabama and South Carolina. I went on a visit to South Carolina and some didn’t bother. It was one of those deals that they sent you a questionnaire and you sent the letter back whether you were interested or not interested. All along I was going to the University of Texas and the night Coach Royal resigned, that kind of ended that. Don’t get me wrong -- it’s probably the best thing that ever happened to me. It was the right decision, and living in the state of Georgia now, I can come out [to Countdown to Kickoff] and people bring pictures of me from 35 years ago and that’s quite interesting.