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K Coutu Out, #1 Kicker in the Nation in! "Blair Walsh Thread"


iDash
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Its old, but I just saw it today when voting for the mascots.

He actually kicked in High School without a tee,

I watched video of him at rivals

Georgia will get a kick out of this super recruit

http://www.sportsline.com/collegefootball/story/10619039

Blair_Walsh_Kicking_2_(Small).JPG

While the nation waits for the top quarterback, running back and wide receiver to announce their college choice, one of Georgia's most important recruits made his choice almost a year ago.

He's only 5-foot-10, but for a kid that connected on two 59-yarders in high school and just missed on a 67-yarder, Blair Walsh might end up as top player in the Bulldogs recruiting class.

Blair Walsh's leg could vault Georgia to the top in the SEC. (Provided to CBSSports.com)

And for those who don't think signing a kicker is that important, remember Scott Bentley?

Mark Richt sure does.

Richt was at Florida State when the Seminoles signed the high school phenom in 1993 after seeing two national championship-caliber teams go down thanks to Wide Right I (1991) and Wide Right II (1992).

Bentley proved to be the winning piece to the puzzle when he hit the game-winning field goal in the 1994 Orange Bowl, giving Bobby Bowden his first national title.

"Having a big league kicker is critical for a team that wants to be a champion. It's especially important in the SEC where we play so many close games," said Richt. "We've had some really good kickers here and if you take away the clutch kicker, there's no telling how many games it would have cost us."

Richt hasn't experienced any "Wide Rights" at Georgia, but with the departure of Brandon Coutu and Andy Bailey, who combined for 66 field goals and 158 extra points over the past four seasons, Richt knows he needs a strong, tough-minded kicker heading into 2008.

Enter Walsh.

Walsh, who is rated the No. 1 kicker by Scout.com and the only four-star player at his position, is expected to step right into the starting lineup for what should be the preseason No. 1 team.

"Richt said we aren't giving you the scholarship and not expecting you to start, we are expecting you to come in and take this job as a freshman, but it doesn't mean you don't have to work for it," Walsh said.

No problem. He's been working at being the best for the past three years.

That's not a mistake ... Walsh has only been kicking footballs since his sophomore year of high school.

He started out like most kickers -- on the soccer team. While he was a freshman at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Walsh was convinced by the team's kicker at the time, Brett Swenson, to join the football team.

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"He just took me out to the field one day and I was going to shag balls for him and kick a few and he thought I was pretty decent," Walsh said.

Walsh trained all summer for a chance to make the junior varsity team and then fate stepped in.

Swenson transferred to a local rival high school, allowing Walsh to end up as the starting kicker on the varsity squad as a sophomore.

Gibbons coach Mike Morrill knew from the start there was something special about his new kicker.

"The ball made a different sound when he kicked it, he had a very live leg," Morrill said. "He wasn't as strong as he is now, but you could just tell by the sound of the ball, he had the right punch."

Walsh continued to get better and stronger in the offseason with the help of personal trainer Nick Gancitano and well-known kicking instructor Chris Sailer.

Gancitano, who played at Penn State in the early 1980s and is a well-known tutor in the South Florida kicking community, taught Walsh privately, while Sailer, who was an All-American at UCLA, runs more than 30 kicking camps around the country for the best high school players in the nation.

"We see 500-750 kids per year in each recruiting class and he's phenomenal," Sailer said. "He's got everything it takes to be an outstanding I-A kicker. He's strong, he's got great technique and a great head on his shoulders.

"Lots of kids have the potential, the leg strength and the technique, but very few of them can take that and be consistent in games. He's got the mental side of it too, which is huge for him. He's competitive, confident and got the exact personality you look for in a guy that you know is going to be great in front of 110,000 people in a huge pressure situation."

Walsh's hard work quickly paid off, getting recruited during his junior year by West Virginia and California. Georgia actually didn't enter the picture until later.

"Once Georgia came in, they were one of the tops on my list," Walsh said. "Georgia was always high on the list because I knew what kind of coach Richt was, good kicking school, good academics, good location. Without even seeing it, it had the right stuff on paper."

And after a visit to Athens with his family, the choice was simple.

"When I was up there, we ran down a list of other schools and how they compared," Walsh added. "And this was it; this is where we want to be."

Done.

Georgia had found its kicker and Walsh's senior season in high school hadn't even started yet.

So while Georgia was fighting for an SEC title and a BCS bowl bid, Walsh was padding his resume, hitting 14 field goals, including seven of at least 40 yards, while earning All-State and USA Today All-American honors. He was also selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

But playing at Sanford Stadium in front of 90,000 against Tennessee is going to be a lot different than playing a game on Friday night in front of 500 classmates.

"I don't really think that will have an affect on me," Walsh said. "I think I've been trained well enough where the fans and the crowd really doesn't influence me."

So when the preseason hype begins for Georgia and players like Matthew Stafford, Knowshown Moreno and most of the returning defenders have stories written about them and are nominated for preseason awards, remember the freshman kicker from Fort Lauderdale that Richt signed as potentially the last piece of a championship puzzle.

"If I can help my team be the best they can be with all the rankings then I will have succeeded," Walsh said.

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The one thing about him is he is a very serious guy when it comes to kicking. You know how teenagers are when it comes to stuff. Some are more determined/serious than others. This kid looks at it as if it's an art form and he is trying to improve constantly. I don't see a problem with him being our kicker and kicking if the game is on the line.

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ballin in atl (6/12/2008)
featherz17 (6/12/2008)
He wasn't very impressive during the Army All-American game.

but that's just one game, we'll just have to wait and see how he does once the season starts

I know, but thats the only time I've seen him play. I'm sure he's a lot better than what he showed that game.

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featherz17 (6/12/2008)
It's gonna be interesting with both UGA and UF having National Championship caliber teams and both having true freshman kickers. Should get very interesting if either has a game come down to a FG attempt.

Oh, they both will definately have games that come down to miss or made FGs. Even if they arent last second FGs.

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featherz17 (6/12/2008)
He wasn't very impressive during the Army All-American game.

Well if you haven't seen him kick you should check out his video on youtube. he is very athletic for a kicker don't you remember that play he did during that game? i will try to find the video.

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mbrizzle (6/12/2008)
Judging a kicker in an All-American game is pretty much impossible. He's working with guys who will probably never be snappers or holders.

lol Infact, that game was full of jacked up snaps, holds, and protections in the kicking game. That's why he had over 40 yards rushing. ;)

lol.. yeah i mean using one game like that to try and judge a kid (not saying featherz is doing that by the way) is a big ridiculous..  if we did that we would have signed him for a rb.. :)

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SacFalcFan (6/13/2008)
mbrizzle (6/12/2008)
Judging a kicker in an All-American game is pretty much impossible. He's working with guys who will probably never be snappers or holders.

lol Infact, that game was full of jacked up snaps, holds, and protections in the kicking game. That's why he had over 40 yards rushing. ;)

lol.. yeah i mean using one game like that to try and judge a kid (not saying featherz is doing that by the way) is a big ridiculous.. if we did that we would have signed him for a rb.. :)

lol. I wasn't saying the kid was terrible and couldn't kick, I just said he didn't look very impressive kicking the ball. His rushing yards were a plus, but I doubt he'll be doing much of that at UGA with the RBs yall have. I'm sure Walsh is a great kid and a helluva kicker. He wouldn't have been an All-American had he not. It should be interesting this year between he and Sturgis at UF. Both freshman PKs on national title caliber teams.

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featherz17 (6/13/2008)
SacFalcFan (6/13/2008)
mbrizzle (6/12/2008)
Judging a kicker in an All-American game is pretty much impossible. He's working with guys who will probably never be snappers or holders.

lol Infact, that game was full of jacked up snaps, holds, and protections in the kicking game. That's why he had over 40 yards rushing. ;)

lol.. yeah i mean using one game like that to try and judge a kid (not saying featherz is doing that by the way) is a big ridiculous.. if we did that we would have signed him for a rb.. :)

lol. I wasn't saying the kid was terrible and couldn't kick, I just said he didn't look very impressive kicking the ball. His rushing yards were a plus, but I doubt he'll be doing much of that at UGA with the RBs yall have. I'm sure Walsh is a great kid and a helluva kicker. He wouldn't have been an All-American had he not. It should be interesting this year between he and Sturgis at UF. Both freshman PKs on national title caliber teams.

As i said I didn't say you were doing that, but i have had plenty of uf fans show that idiocy regarding walsh.  it should be interesting to see which kicker comes through in the clutch.  both are great talents.

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SacFalcFan (6/12/2008)
featherz17 (6/12/2008)
He wasn't very impressive during the Army All-American game.

Well if you haven't seen him kick you should check out his video on youtube. he is very athletic for a kicker don't you remember that play he did during that game? i will try to find the video.

I remember changing the channel back to the game and catching that particular play right in the middle.

I thought, "Wow, that little running back is fast!"

And then I found out it was the frickin' kicker!:blink:

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