It may not have been as pressure-packed a kick as what Georgia commitment Marshall Morgan could see in the coming years in games in Jacksonville, Auburn or a bowl site, but it went through the uprights nonetheless.
The 47-yard field goal off Morgan’s right foot with 5:30 left proved to be the winning points in the inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American game earlier this month in Phoenix.
“It was awesome,” Morgan said.
Morgan was one of Georgia’s earliest pledges for the 2012 class and will become a Bulldogs signee on Feb. 1. He is expected to take over for Blair Walsh at place-kicker in his freshman season.
Morgan saw Walsh miss a pair of field goals in overtime in the Bulldogs’ 33-30 Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State on Jan. 2 in Tampa in the senior’s final college game.
“I felt kind of bad,” Morgan said. “I watched a lot of the games. I love Blair. I spent a lot of time with Blair and he’s just a good guy. Some people might give him crap and stuff, but I’ve still got faith in him. I think he’ll go to the NFL.”
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Morgan was selected all-state in Florida after making 10 of 12 field goals as a senior at American Heritage High School in Plantation, including connecting on one from 60 yards out. He made every extra point.
“They’re going to have a good team next year and he needs to be a key part of it,” said Walsh, who spent some time talking with Morgan at Georgia’s senior gala in December.
“As long as he keeps working and stays humble and grounded, he’ll be fine.”
Walsh hails from Boca Raton, less than 20 miles away from where Morgan lives in Coral Springs, but Walsh didn’t know about him until he committed last year.
“I was in eighth grade when he was a senior,” Morgan said. “That’s before I was serious about kicking. I got serious about kicking after my freshman year.”
Walsh, who will kick Saturday in the East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg, Fla., left Georgia as the SEC’s career points leader, but made just 21 of 35 field goals as a senior. Georgia made just 59.5 percent of its field-goal tries.
After making 15 of 16 field goals as a junior, Morgan became the Bulldogs’ second commitment for the 2012 class when he picked the Bulldogs over Florida State, Florida, Virginia Tech and TCU last Jan. 31.
“The reason that I didn’t pick FSU, UF or Virginia Tech is I wasn’t guaranteed playing time right away,” Morgan said. “At Georgia I feel like I have a way better chance to start right away as a freshman.”
Morgan couldn’t take an official visit to Georgia because of a secondary violation for game simulation that the university reported stemming from his unofficial visit before his commitment last January.
Coach Mark Richt asked a member of the football staff to play a video clip showing fans doing a traditional cheer, ‘Go Dawgs, sic ‘em, woof, woof, woof’ during a kickoff after Morgan asked about traditions, according to Georgia’s report to the SEC. Morgan performed an “air kick” over the top of a water bottle in Sanford Stadium. Richt did not know it was a violation at the time.
Morgan said he’s visited Georgia unofficially “four or five times” anyway.
“I’ve been there plenty of times,” he said.
Morgan did some recruiting himself in Phoenix, urging running back Todd Gurley from Tarboro, N.C., to give his own commitment to the Bulldogs.
Gurley did just that a week ago.
“I was talking Georgia to him so much,” Morgan said. “He was thinking Clemson. He texted me the day before and he was like, ‘It’s Georgia.’”
Yes, Morgan is already scoring for Georgia.
“I’ll take a little bit of credit,” he said.