July 13, 2009

Walsh not backing down from challenge

The way Blair Walsh sees it, a little competition never hurt anybody.

That goes for quarterbacks, running backs, defensive ends - and yes - kickers.

When Georgia signed Brandon Bogotay, head coach Mark Richt suggested that the junior college transfer would receive every opportunity to compete for Walsh's starting job, from his duties as the Bulldogs' kickoff man to field goals and extra points.

"Competition is competition," Walsh shrugged. "It happens at all positions. That's part of the game."

It was a memorable first year for the rising sophomore from Fort Lauderdale.

The reigning Freshman All-SEC selection converted all 50 of his extra points and was 15-of-23 on fields goals, including a 52-yarder on his first collegiate kick against Georgia Southern.

If Walsh struggled, it was on kickoffs where his lack of consistency forced Georgia to opt for more of a directional kick instead booming the ball straight down the field, hence the decision to sign Bogotay out of Grossmont Junior College.

At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Bogotay comes to Georgia with the reputation for kicking the football deep. But Walsh isn't backing down to the challenge.

Besides working out for three or four days every week since the start of the year, Walsh traveled to California to hone his skills at the Chris Sailers Kicking Camp where kickers from top high school and different collegiate programs gathered to hone their skills.

While there, Walsh roomed with Quinn Sharpe, a Texas native had had gotten to know over the years while attending other camps throughout the country.

During that time, the two became close friends. Sharpe currently kicks for Oklahoma State, Georgia's opening day opponent.

"We had a roomed together before so this time was a little different," Walsh said. "We talked a lot about the game, what we thought would happen; just had a little fun with it."

Otherwise, Walsh said the camp was just a unique opportunity to "hang out" with other kickers to practice their skills before their respective preseason camps get underway.

"It was just nice to be out there," he said. "I enjoyed just being out there talking to the other guys, hearing what they have to say because they're going a lot of the same things that you're going through."

As for Walsh, he said he continues to kick approximately 40 balls three or four times a week besides working out with the rest of the team during their daily sessions in the team weight room.

"There's a lot of work that has to be put in," he said. "My mind is focused and basically that focus is just on football. That's my main priority right now."

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