Linebacker Charles White and offensive lineman Ben Harden readily admit that their respective Georgia careers did not turn out like they had hoped after they signed scholarships to play for the Bulldogs four years ago.
But neither one is complaining.
Saturday, the junior duo walked on the Sanford Stadium turf for the final time in their respective careers, joining 20 seniors and junior walk-on Josh Sailors who were honored prior to the Bulldogs' regular-season finale against Georgia Tech
"It's been a huge blessing, just to have the opportunity out of millions of people who come out and play football every year, first to play Division I football and second to put on the silver britches and run around between the hedges," White said. "It's been unbelievable."
Harden echoed what White had to say.
"My career did not go like I wanted, but I still feel like I accomplished a lot of things," Harden said. "Not many people can say they had a chance to play between the hedges and no matter what has happened, I can still say I was able to live the dream for the four years I was here. To me, everything was good."
Both players will also be receiving their degrees.
White will receive his Bachelors in Business Management in December and hopes to attend Law School at Georgia. Harden, meanwhile, will graduate with a degree in Sports Management in May with hopes of one day being a sports agent.
"I know I've had this conversation with Charles and I can't recall if I have with Ben, but I will before it's over, but I appreciate everything those guys did for us," head coach Mark Richt said. "They busted their tails and did the best they could. It just didn't work out, but they're both going to get their degrees, will make tremendous employees and probably employers one day. I'm proud of them."
A native of Columbia, S.C., White was a highly thought of prospect until an Achilles injury for all practical purposes ruined his career.
Coming into play, White had appeared in just one game after moving back to linebacker from fullback near the end of preseason camp.
"It was unfortunate and every now and then the thought of why me might slip into your head, but it does no good to worry about it, so you just move on and do the best you can," said White, a recipient of the William P. Bruckner Scholarship. "Again, it was unfortunate, but I still had a chance to be around the game I love, come out every day and practice hard and play with the guys I love."
White was welcomed at midfield by his parents Charles Sr. and Bertha and sister Nicole who like all the seniors, posed for a brief picture with Richt before Saturday night's kickoff.
Harden said friends often asked why he stuck it out so long.
"I just tell them because of my love for this team. Football to me is more than just a game, it teaches life lessons," he said. "I tell them how I much I enjoy the camaraderie with my teammates and coaches and how I've probably met some of my closest friends I'll ever have in my lifetime. Those were plenty of reasons for me to stick around. Just being able to say I got to go to Georgia, put on the Red and Black puts a smile on your face."
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