Earlier this week our friends at EDSBS wrote about Eric Berry and loving a player that went to a rival school. So today we're all going to confess: What player at a rival school did you (or do you) love in spite of yourself?
It's not even close for me* - I will never not love Dawson Zimmerman, the wonderful punter for Clemson during the end of the Bowden Administration.
It wasn't anything he did on the field, but rather, his beauty off the field. Here's his quote after Bowden left Clemson mid-season:
"I've come to the conclusion that his dismissal is in direct correlation to the economic crisis in 2008. As the confidence in America's stock market has fallen so has the confidence in Clemson's head coach. Therefore I propose that the federals should continue to purchase liquid assets."
He's literally the type of player I would want to be if I were a player.
* The actual answer to this question is a guy I played high school baseball with who later went on to start for Clemson. As I told him and friends during those years, every time he batted I pulled for a triple and for him to get stranded on third. It's not like this is exactly a revelation given I'm in my 30s now, but at the time, the idea of prioritizing people you love and care about over a rivalry was a difficult concept for me to grasp. Such was - nay, is - my hatred for Clemson.
I've always had a deep appreciation for Tight Ends (stop chuckling). One such player that I had no apologies rooting for was Leonard Pope. I cannot stand anything about the University of Georgia, but there's something to appreciate about a person that's 6-foot-8-inches tall and more than 280-lbs. capable of running a 40-yd. dash in under 4.6 seconds. He wasn't a legendary player at UGA, and we were in the tailspin of the Lou Holtz years, so he didn't really ruin anything for me as a South Carolina fan, but he was a solid TE that's had a pretty solid NFL career to boot. He's also started a foundation for under-privileged children that's raised more than $10mm to date. It's the way I'd like to be, consistent but not over-hyped, with good priorities.
I share DC3's sentiments regarding UGA, but I'm going to contradict myself here and go with David Pollack. Pollack always played like a madman. His energy and enthusiasm stood out even when watching games on TV. He's almost unrecognizable in the ESPN booth compared to the absolute beast of a defensive lineman he was for the Bulldogs from 2001-2004. He had one hell of a play against South Carolina in 2002 where he basically stripped a ball Corey Jenkins was trying to throw in the endzone and managed to grab it before it hit the ground. Officially, it was a 0-yard interception for a touchdown. By a Defensive Lineman. He didn't celebrate so much as run full speed towards the UGA sideline hurling into his teammates and bouncing around like 300 lb Golden Retriever puppy. Watching that spectacle, it was hard to even be mad about the play.
I distinctly remember being really sad for him when his NFL career was ended by suffering a broken back while playing for the Bengal's. Ohio ruins everything.
The first answer that comes to mind for me is Johnny Manziel, but since we never faced him and A&M wasn't technically our rival while he was there I don't think he fits for this question. So I'll add another UGA player to the list we have here and go with Todd Gurley. It's just so much fun to watch a great running back barrel through defenses and he was no exception. I should have wanted him to fail because I usually wish bad things on Georgia, but I always found myself rooting for him to make a big play.