The Carolina-Georgia Connection

Two former Georgia Bulldogs are currently on the Panthers current roster, Thomas Davis and Charles Johnson, and both have a shot at becoming franchise record holders. Davis, who just signed a two-year extension, trails Mike Minter by 45 tackles, and Johnson needs 18.5 sacks to catch Julius Peppers. Johnson has two years left on his contract to get them.  

The successful connection to the University of Georgia, however, goes further than these two important vets. Carolina’s all-time points leader, John Kasey, hailed from Athens as well.  

I thought it would be fun to see who has found their way north up I-85 to Charlotte and peek what they contributed to when in the Queen City. Let’s go from worst to first, and it won’t be one of those dumb slideshows you have to keep clicking, and clicking, and clicking.

Worst to First

Tavarres King (WR)

 The speediest Bulldog to join the Panthers, King didn’t make the 53-man roster in 2013. The Broncos originally took the speedy wideout in the 5th round of the 2013 draft.  The wideout position was crowded and King was waived, allowing the Carolina who was wideout depraved to claim him off of waivers.  King has bounced around a bit since, spending time on the Buccaneer and the Jaguars. It’s sucks placing King as the worst Bulldog of this list because he still has a chance to crack a roster, and he’s just a good dude.

Corvey Irvin (DT)

 Another good guy who had trouble finding success in the pros, Irvin was a 3rd round pick in the 2009 draft. He tore an MCL in the final preseason game, forcing him to spend his entire rookie year on IR. Irvin fought to make several teams following his release in 2011.  He played a few games for the Jaguars, and in 2012 he appeared in 12 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  In 2013 he joined the Dallas Cowboys recording 5 tackles, only to be cut when the season ended.  Irvin now plays in Canada for the Montreal Alouettes. 

Chris Terry (G)

This jackass is really the worst Georgia alum to wear a Panthers jersey. His marginal success on the field is the only reason he isn’t classified as the worst, but on a humanity scale alone, he’s the worst for sure. The Panthers selected Terry in the 2nd round of the 1999 draft, and subsequently started at right guard for the next three seasons.  Carolina cut Terry after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge, where he slammed his wife’s head into a wall, head-butted her, and then smothered her in a pillow in front of their children.  The Seahawks gave Terry another shot (it was a different day in the NFL then) even after he was arrested again for missing his court date. He started 23 out of 25 games when he was available, but again he found himself in trouble for violating the league’s substance abuse problem.  Terry never could get his act together off the field.  After being cut from the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 for missing team meetings, Terry was later “charged with dealing and possessing cocaine, possessing a handgun without a permit, resisting arrest and driving under the influence.”

Jermaine Wiggins (TE)

He’s best known for being verbally assaulted by Steve Smith over a decade after they were teammates in Carolina.  The best part of the story is that Wiggins wasn’t even a player in the game.  He works as a radio host in Boston and was attending the game with his family when Smitty confronted him because he apparently described the fiery former Panther as a bully. Clearly, Smith doesn’t hold a grudge.  Wiggins didn’t do anything while he was with the Panthers, but he did have three productive seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. 

Fernando Velasco (G/C)

 Velasco didn’t spend much time with the Panthers, and it wasn’t all that good to be honest.  He was an undrafted free agent who the Tennessee Titans signed in 2008.  Velasco started 16 games for the Titans in 2012 and was ranked the 11th best center in the league. Pittsburg grabbed Velasco in 2013 to help fill the void for the injured Maurkice Pouncey, but he too fell to an achilles injury during training camp. Velasco started 7 games at guard for the Carolina Panthers, only to be replaced by an undrafted free agent, Andrew Norwell, who showed out. Velasco is now back with Titans.

Will Witherspoon- The one that got away, Witherspoon was the Panthers 2002 3rd round pick. In his second season, he notched 16 tackles in the Super Bowl.  It didn’t get much better than when Spoon and Dan Morgan were on the field together.  After resigning Dan Morgan to a sizable contract, Spoon found himself hitting the free-agent market. Witherspoon played a total of 12 seasons in the NFL, where he recorded 949 tackles, 26 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, and 14 interceptions in his career. 

Charles Johnson (DE)

 The Panthers showed him the money, and he has showed them a solid NFL career. Johnson, who remains friends with his mentor Julius Peppers, was drafted in the 3rd-round of the 2008 draft.  Johnson doesn’t bring a lot of flash in the locker room, but he brings power and disruption to the football field. Known as Big Money because he signed a 76 million dollar deal in 2011, Johnson will likely collect every dollar as he plays out the life on his contract in Carolina.  He’s second in franchise history with 62.5 sacks, behind only Julius Peppers.  Johnson has been a pro’s-pro during his time in Carolina, and with two seasons left, there’s time for him to surpass Peppers’ 81 sack team record.

John Kasay (K)

 Money from outside of 50 yards and Carolina’s all-time leading scorer, some still have trouble getting past him kicking it out of bounds in the closing minutes of the 2003 Super Bowl.  Kasay, however, wasn’t the reason Carolina didn’t win that game (the kick didn’t help), and he went on to play seven more seasons for the Panthers where he did nothing but put it through the uprights from far, far away. Kasay racked up 1,482 points for the Panthers. Kasey punched 83 balls through the uprights from outside 50 yards in his career.  

Thomas Davis (LB)

How could any of these previous guys be ahead of TD? Last year’s Walter Payton Man of the Year, who suffered three severe ACL tears in the same knee, is fast approaching the Panthers all-time tackle record.  The first to return three injuries of this nature, Davis has been fantastic on an off the field.  Oddly, he’s even better now than he was before all the problems.  He’s football smart and invaluable as a leader in the locker room and on the field.  One of the best parts about this story is that it’s more than just a return to the field of play feel-good story. Davis has been outright great on the field since his return, good enough to land a 2-year, 18 million dollar extension anyway. He’s recorded over 100 tackles in each of the last three seasons, leaving him only 45 away from Mike Minter’s record.

I think this accounts for all Georgia alum who have worn a Panthers jersey.  Let me know if I missed anyone or if you disagree with the ordering in the comments below.

By Tony Dunn, aka the Professor
Follow me on Twitter @Cat_Chronicles