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After visiting many other schools around the country on recruiting visits, it was time for Knox Culpepper III to visit his dream school, the University of Georgia. Upon his arrival, Culpepper was taken under the wing of legendary senior linebacker #48 Frank Ros, the number Culpepper would later choose to wear to honor a role model like Ros. Ros introduced Culpepper to the entire team as well as lettermen, but when it came to meeting with head coach Vince Dooley, the first impression was nothing short of incredible.

“It was the best recruiting trip I had been on by far,” said Culpepper. “I went to meet with Coach Dooley as all recruits do on all recruiting trips, but he was the only coach to ask me for my commitment on the spot, and I gave it to him right then.”





As a young boy, Culpepper dreamed of playing at the University of Georgia to follow in his late father’s footsteps Knox Culpepper Jr. Culpepper Jr. died when Culpepper III was 15, but his old-fashioned disciplinarian ways have stuck with Culpepper III throughout his life. “He always said, ‘Make your actions speak louder than your words,’” said Culpepper. “Since then, that has always been my philosophy because that is how he taught and coached me.” Although Culpepper III’s father was rather quiet, he was always present, leading by example rather than vocals.

As Culpepper’s senior year in 1984 rolled around, Coach Dooley, his staff and the rest of the team named Culpepper a captain. Culpepper dreamed of playing at Georgia, but the honor of being captain validated all the goals Culpepper had set in his life thus far. Those lessons that his father taught him were surely evident to the rest of the roster as the now senior linebacker had led by example for the three years prior.

“I was not the fastest or best athlete,” said Culpepper. “My philosophy was to be in better shape and have better technique than the guy across the ball from me… As a linebacker, you are the quarterback of the defense, but I still led by example, showing out when I was on that field. I was never a big rah-rah guy.”





Being in the best shape was a necessity for those Junkyard Dawg defenses, as everyday of the week they had to practice against the great Herschel Walker. Culpepper said he had played the greats in the SEC: George Rogers, Bo Jackson and George Adams, but the licks Herschel laid in practice for the two year they played together were unlike anything else.

“I tell this story all the time,” said Culpepper. “I got hit my freshman year in practice harder than I have ever been hit. I was coming in on a blitz against Herschel, and he looked like he was barely moving. He got underneath my shoulder pads, and I went backwards. It ended up being one of those comments in the film room, ‘Fellas, this is how you block a linebacker.’ They proceeded to play it about 50 more times in film that day.”

Those two years Culpepper played with and practiced against Herschel paid off come 1983. In back to back weeks against Auburn and Georgia Tech, Culpepper broke the single game tackling records (and still holds the first and second spots in this statistic column) with 25 against Auburn and 26 against the Nerds (Georgia Tech). What did he eat for breakfast those two Saturdays in order to do that? It wasn’t about breakfast for Culpepper; it was thanks to the practices Coach Dooley ran. Culpepper said that between two-a-days and practice during the season, game time was fun time. Coach Dooley kicked their butts throughout the week according to Culpepper, so come game day, he never got tired for those 60 minutes on Saturdays… that’s how you compile over 50 tackles in just two weeks.

With practice time restrictions nowadays, there’s no longer two-a-days and continuous, grueling practices like there were in the 80s, but Culpepper is quite impressed with how Coach Smart gets the guys ready to compete at the level they play. Culpepper said that what Coach Smart accomplishes in the time he is allotted with those players is just phenomenal. He doesn’t like to predict, but Culpepper alluded to the way that this team is performing right now, there is almost nothing those guys can’t accomplish.

Before handing in this article, I must tell a quick Knox Culpepper story. In the early 80s when Culpepper arrived on campus, my father John Culpepper, a 10-year-old at the time, got a puppy and named him Knox after #48. My family and Knox share a last name, a great one at that, but we are not related except through that little black lab in 1981 and a university we both call home. However, after talking for just 20 minutes on the phone, this Damn Good Dawg and his humor is a person I’d gladly call family. Cheers to a great interview and an even better last name.





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