Walsh, Bogotay remain friendly ‘in a highly competitive situation’

Blair Walsh is the better golfer. Brandon Bogotay is the more experienced surfer.

The two Georgia seniors are good friends that remain in a fight for the Bulldogs’ kicking job.

If they were battling for top surfer, Bogotay would be the guy.

He likes to rides the waves at Black’s Beach in La Jolla, Calif., close to his San Diego home.

“I keep bugging him; I want to teach him how to surf,” Bogotay said. “When he comes out maybe this summer. He’s surfed before. We’re trying to set something up.”

Walsh, from Boca Raton, Fla., said he will surf “when the waves are big enough when there are hurricanes back home.”

Walsh says he’s got the edge on the fairways and greens.

“He’s good though,” Walsh said. “He’s one of those guys where you’ll turn around after nine holes and he’ll be a couple over par and you go, ‘Dang, I didn’t know he was that close to par.’ ”

There’s a more heated competition going on between Walsh and Bogotay, who rotated on kickoffs and extra points in last week’s 63-16 rout of New Mexico State.

That move came after Walsh struggled, making only 13 of 23 field goals after missing just five the previous two seasons. Georgia didn’t attempt a field goal Saturday.

It remains “a highly competitive situation,” coach Mark Richt said Tuesday, but he didn’t say if the two will alternate again Saturday against Auburn.

“I’m not going to divulge that right now because I’m not 100 percent sure,” Richt said. “I will say I thought it went well. I’m glad we scored touchdowns and all we kicked was extra points, but it would have been a little more interesting to me to see guys attempt field goals under that rotation. We’re going to go through practice too and see how everybody does throughout the week.”

“Both of us just prepare like we’re going to be the guy,” Bogotay said. “We want each other to do well.”

Walsh has two of the top 10 longest field goals in the Football Bowl Subdivision this year from 56 (tied for longest) and 53.

It’s common for a kicker to get yanked when he struggles, but rotating kickers?

“No I haven’t really heard of it too much honestly,” Walsh said.

Walsh felt Bogotay’s footsteps. There were more kicks during drills last week as coaches evaluated.

“Any time you’re not the full starter in a game, you absolutely feel the heat,” Walsh said.

Bogotay was signed in late March 2009 to provide a big leg to help Georgia’s kickoff issues. Under Georgia’s directional kicking philosophy, Walsh had eight kickoffs go out of bounds and only four touchbacks.

Walsh, it turned out, held onto that job as well as on field goals and extra points.

“I’ve been put under the gun here before, had to earn my job,” Walsh said.

That gave the Bulldogs a second scholarship kicker on the roster who wasn’t kicking much except in practice. Bogotay turned down scholarship offers to Hawaii, San Diego State and Nevada after a season at Grossmont College in El Cajon, Calif., where he made 13 of 23 field goals with a long of  52.

At Georgia, he’s attempted one field goal, a 35-yard miss last year against Idaho State. He kicked off 10 times before Saturday, with three touchbacks and a successful onsides kick against Mississippi State.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to go out there and give it a shot so I was just happy with the opportunity,” said Bogotay. “It’s been tough going traveling and not getting to play, but at the same time, Blair’s had a lot of great success.”

Walsh and Bogotay each kicked off five times with a touchback apiece Saturday. Walsh made all five of his extra point attempts and Bogotay made is four.

Tight end Orson Charles said he was happy for Bogotay “because he’s been working so hard to get his chance. I think the rotation is real good.”

“Brandon could be kicking for 75 percent of the teams in Division I,” Walsh said. “He’s a great kicker and he works hard at what he does and he has a lot of natural talent.”

Mel Kiper, the ESPN NFL draft analyst , still listed Walsh as the top senior kicker last week because “his reputation is good enough that it’s hard to drop him.”

“I know my capabilities,” Walsh said. “Eventually, hopefully hard work and talent will prevail. …Right now I’m focused on being the University of Georgia’s starting placekicker come Saturday and having full responsibility.”

Either Walsh or Bogotay could be kicking Saturday with an SEC East title on the line.

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