Blair Walsh‚Äôs difficult senior season at Georgia didn‚Äôt overshadow what the Southeastern Conference‚Äôs career scoring leader did in college and the potential he has at the next level.
The Minnesota Vikings picked Walsh on Saturday in the sixth round of the NFL draft, making him the highest-drafted Georgia kicker since John Kasay was a fourth-round pick in 1991.
‚ÄúThis means everything,‚Äù Walsh said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm so stoked to be a part of the Vikings. To overcome what happened my senior year, I think I‚Äôm a better person for it when all is said and done. I appreciate all the people who stuck by me during my career at Georgia this last season. I felt like I was a reliable person throughout my career there. I‚Äôm sad to leave it, but I‚Äôm happy to be moving on with my life and be a part of the Minnesota Vikings.‚Äù
Walsh struggled in his senior season when he made just 21 of 35 field goals, including two misses in overtime in Georgia‚Äôs 33-30 loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl.
Walsh finished his career with 412 career points, making 76 of 103 field goals.
He was at home in Boca Raton, Fla., with his immediate family and two best friends from high school when he got the news that he would be the fifth pick of the sixth round, the 175th overall pick.
His father, Joe Walsh, had a Vikings hat on hand.
‚ÄúHe just had a feeling,‚Äù Walsh said. ‚ÄúHe threw it to me. It was pretty exciting. The whole thing is really cool.‚Äù
Walsh didn‚Äôt ask if his father had other hats just in case.
Walsh was the third kicker drafted this weekend.
He worked out for Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer in Athens, along with former Bulldogs punter Drew Butler.
‚ÄúNow we‚Äôre sitting here and we‚Äôre all pulling for Drew right now,‚Äù Walsh said while the sixth round wound down with Butler still waiting to be picked.
Butler went undrafted but said Saturday night that he will sign as an undrafted free agent with Pittsburgh. The 2009 Ray Guy Award winner will have a chance to compete with Jeremy Kapinos, the only punter on the Steelers‚Äô roster.
‚ÄúIt just seems like a legitimate and real opportunity,‚Äù Butler said. ‚ÄúThey value special teams up there and I think it‚Äôs a good way to get my foot in the door.‚Äù
The Vikings have 37-year old veteran kicker Ryan Longwell on roster. He reportedly signed a four-year contact before last season, but made 78.6 percent of his field goal tries last season with 19 touchbacks.
‚ÄúI would assume they‚Äôre drafting me to come in and compete, but Ryan‚Äôs a great kicker and he‚Äôs been there a long time and is sort of a staple with the Minnesota Vikings,‚Äù Walsh said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm happy and I‚Äôm fortunate for the opportunity to compete and to play at the next level.‚Äù