One of Gwinnett's favorite sons came home Friday night. Davey Pollack, a 2001 graduate of Shiloh High School, returned to his alma mater to be inducted into the Shiloh Hall of Fame.
"I remember this gym so vividly," Pollack said of the event's location. "I never dreamed about coming back and being honored and having my jersey retired. It is pretty humbling."
Pollack's list of achievements on the football field is staggering, including the Lombardi Trophy in 2004 for best defensive lineman and the Bednarick award in 2004 for best defensive player. He is UGA's all-time career leader in sacks and a three-time All-American, joining Herschel Walker as the only other Bulldog with that honor.
All of those accolades alone are enough to warrant induction into a hall of fame, but Pollack's influence goes way beyond anything he accomplished on the gridiron.
"The image he has given Snellville is something you can't put a price tag on," Shiloh athletic director Ed Shaddix said. "Whenever you hear someone talk about David Pollack or David Greene from this area, you smile."
Shaddix, who was Pollack's defensive line coach at Shiloh, has seen Pollack grow from a rambunctious ninth-grader to a polished young man, something then-head coach Charlie Jordan also remembers.
"I used to get calls from some of his elementary teachers saying they couldn't wait for me to get a hold of him," Jordan said. "I didn't know if they meant to develop him as an athlete or to calm him down.
"Just on his athletic awards, everybody in the Shiloh community walks out with their chests poked out. To watch him grow as a person and a man is probably the most fulfilling thing for me. He is a fine person that has represented our community in a great fashion."
Jordan brought Pollack as sophomore to the varsity squad and made the decision to start him on both offense and defense. Even though Jordan left after Pollack's sophomore season, Pollack excelled in his junior and senior seasons, earning the Gwinnett Touchdown Club's honor of Defensive Lineman of the Year both years.
As a senior, Pollack led Shiloh to its best season at 8-5, losing a heartbreaker in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
Pollack's enormous energy also earned him a reputation off the field, something Principal Bill Kruskamp remembers.
"When I was an assistant principal, I chased him from one end of the parking lot to the other to get him to park in the right place," Kruskamp said. "But you could never be angry with him. He is somebody who has come to symbolize the Shiloh community. He put us on the map."
"He was probably one of the most fun kids I had been around in a long time," then-athletic director Bill Holleman said. "I don't think I've ever seen a kid play with any more heart or commitment. It's that commitment and desire that are key qualities to him. That motor of his never quits."
After Shiloh, Pollack went on to UGA and helped lead the Bulldogs in their most successful four-year run in school history. Upon leaving UGA, he was selected as the 17th pick in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, where he started five games last year as a rookie.
But all of his success on the field started in Snellville, a fact that has not been forgotten by Pollack.
"I really don't like to talk in front of people - most people don't believe that," an emotional Pollack said as he addressed the crowd. "This place brings back so many memories. I have had a lot of award banquets and ceremonies, but this one means the most."