Defensive lineman Pollack will sign on today - Sports - Mobile Adv

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Defensive lineman Pollack will sign on today

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Shiloh High School senior David Pollack made the biggest decision of his life a week ago by announcing he'll attend the University of Georgia in the fall. Today, he'll put it in writing.

 

What separates Pollack from the rest of the thousands of incoming freshmen for the next school year is his size -- he's 6-foot-3, 275-pounds -- and his ability to play football.

Those attributes thrust Pollack, and hundreds of prep players like him, into a dizzying drama full of sales-pitching coaches and gossip-gathering reporters -- all of it played out in a glaring, and unfamiliar, spotlight.

It's not an easy process for a young athlete to handle.

"(It's) mind-boggling," Pollack said. "I guess it'd be like a roller coaster because it has its ups and downs."

Some of the "ups" come from the newfound attention. At the end of his junior year, Pollack's name was already on the list of dozens of recruiting Web sites. In the summer, he managed to raise a few eyebrows from college coaches at football camps designed to pinpoint who was cut out for Division I football.

By the time his senior year rolled around, he was receiving phone calls from people only months before he considered celebrities. "(Richt) impressed me big time, and that's a lot of the reason I came."

DAVID POLLACK Football Commitment

"When you first get called you're like 'Whoa, coach Spurrier is calling me,' " he said. "And then he keeps calling and you keep talking to him and then it starts getting annoying."

Not from the calls from visor-throwing personalities like Steve Spurrier, Florida's head coach, of course. The real annoyance for Pollack came from reporters hoping to catch the tail-end of the player-coach conversations.

"You get calls from everywhere," he said. "As far as time consuming, it was awful. During recruiting you don't really have a chance to go off that much except on weekends. I took my officials (recruiting visits) to schools, and it's all weekend. You don't get a chance to hang out with your friends, and you get calls all the time. It's very time consuming."

Especially for the undecided recruit. During the early stages of the recruiting season (September to November) Pollack didn't have to worry about that tug-of-war. He took visits to various universities, but had his heart set on Georgia.

Things got a lot less certain for Pollack on Dec. 4, when the Bulldogs announced the firing of head coach Jim Donnan.

"I kind of felt lost," he said. "I went to all the other places but I never had an open mind. When coach Donnan got fired I had to start looking seriously."

Pollack said he opened up his eyes a little more when making official visits to Clemson, Ohio State and Florida. He said he liked each program, especially Florida. Pollack said he respected the winning tradition Spurrier had built, and came away from the official visit Jan. 19-21 impressed with the Gators.

However, by this time the Bulldogs had gotten their new head coach and started the process of building a new foundation.

Georgia wanted the Snellville native to be a part of that. As fate would have it, at home waiting for Pollack the Sunday he returned from Gainesville was the new man at the helm in Athens, Mark Richt.

"Coach Richt came in and shared his goals, shared his expectations and how everything is going to go," Pollack said. "He impressed me big time, and that's a lot of the reason I came."

Pollack had watched Georgia closely when it announced the hiring of Richt. He said he liked how Richt handled all the attention, and the direction the football program was taking.

The Bulldogs had another advantage in signing Pollack -- his familiarity with the team. He'd played football with Georgia quarterback David Greene since he was six. He'd also developed friendships with a few Bulldog players during his visits, including sophomore Jon Stinchcomb and junior Curt McGill.

Still, Pollack wrestled with his choice in the final weeks. He liked something with each school -- from Spurrier's philosophy to Tommy Bowden's intensity.

But Georgia ultimately had the winning combination.

"When it comes down to it, all the coaches said you want to go where you like the people the best. So I said 'The people I like the best are at Georgia.' "

Kelli Pollack, David's mother, agreed with her son's decision.

"He had his academic goals set and he knew the football part of it would take care of itself," she said. "So the most important part of it to us was that he would be comfortable with the people that he would be around."

Having one of the nation's top law schools didn't hurt either. Pollack maintains a 3.35 GPA at Shiloh, and already has a set of academic goals laid out for college.

"Academics is most important to me," he said. "Football isn't going to last forever. When I go to school, I plan on being an academic All-American, making sure my grades come first. I'm going to work my butt off, academically."

For now though, Pollack can breathe a little easier. While he winds down from a grueling few months, his friends still don't understand how the star defensive tackle could be tired of all the attention.

"I'd say they have it easier than I do," Pollack said. "They were like 'Yeah, good call, why don't you go sign a scholarship to anywhere you want to go.'

"I said, 'It's more than that. You don't see the bad parts, but trust me, there's bad parts to this.' "

Today, the good and the bad will be tossed aside. Pollack can finish out his senior year without the flood of phone calls and repetitive questions. He can hit the books and the weights to prepare for the next stage in his life.

And maybe most importantly, Pollack can count down the days until one of his dreams is fulfilled -- playing between the hedges.

"When you run out of that tunnel you're going to get chills," he said. "You're thinking to yourself, 'Man, that's going to be fun.' "

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