Walsh poised to set scoring mark

Blair Walsh could kick his way into the Southeastern Conference record book this season for most points scored in a career.

David Manning/Staff Georgia kicker Blair Walsh (57) would break ex-Bulldog Billy Bennett’s SEC all-time scoring mark with 107 points this season.
David Manning

Walsh is hardly all about individual achievements, though.

He was vocal outside the locker room after Georgia’s Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida last New Year’s Eve in Memphis, saying the team felt entitled to win and needed a change in attitude.

The senior kicker actually isn’t one of the guys most likely to speak up around the team, he said.

“I think the guys that play in the field and in the trenches every day are the guys that deserve to be the team leaders,” Walsh said. “I think when it comes down to it, I try to lead by example and show them what I’m willing to put into it and what I think they need to put into it as well. I didn’t think our mindset was right back then during our bowl game and I think we’ve definitely changed. We’ve become a team that knows that we have to go out there and fight for every win and nothing’s coming to us.”

Georgia got all of its points in the 10-6 bowl loss off of Walsh’s right foot, which accounted for 106 points last season.

If he tops that 2010 total by one point this season, he will surpass former Georgia kicker Billy Bennett (409 points from 2000-03) as the SEC’s all-time career scoring leader.

“It’s cool if that stuff comes along with it,” Walsh said. “If I’m getting (107 points), that means we’re scoring a lot of touchdowns, which is good. If the individual stuff comes with it, that’s great, but it’s really about the SEC championship and going to that dome twice this year, not once.”

Georgia opens its season at the Georgia Dome Sept. 3 against Boise State. The SEC Championship Game will be played there in December.

Walsh is a big reason why areas of concern heading into that game for Georgia don’t include the specialists. Punter Drew Butler and Walsh give the Bulldogs perhaps the best kicking duo in the nation.

Walsh is a preseason All-SEC first-team pick by the coaches and media and a top candidate again for the Lou Groza Award, for which he was a finalist in 2009.

Walsh already booted a 58-yard field goal in the first preseason scrimmage.

“He’s a guy you believe in, a guy I’ve got faith in to make those kicks,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “His fundamentals are so strong that he’s just a super accurate guy.”

Walsh has converted 55 of 68 field goals in his career, including 20 of 23 last season, an 87 percent clip.

Walsh is 8-for-12 on field goals from 50 or more yards as a Bulldog.

“Most teams when it’s a 50-yard kick or a 55-yard kick, they’re just sending out the punter,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “Blair, with him, it’s a great shot that he’s going to make that kind of field goal.”

Walsh’s goal this year is to make at least 90 percent of his field goals.

“I just want to be dependable,” Walsh said. “Every kick that they need me to make, I want to make.”

Walsh’s career at Georgia will end after this season, but there will be another Walsh playing for Georgia.

His sister Kailey has committed to play golf at Georgia. She’s ranked No. 24 for rising high school seniors by GolfWeek and qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

“I’m not a bad golfer, but she kills me,” Walsh said. “I can probably shoot 80. You’ll be through four holes and you’ll be like, ‘Kailey, you haven’t made a mistake yet.’ I’ll put one in my neighbor’s house and she hasn’t made a mistake yet. That’s intimidating.”

Blair Walsh, who hails from Boca Raton, gets one final shot this season at Florida, his home-state school.

“I’m not happy that we had a losing record (in 2010) and that I’m 0-4 against Florida teams,” Walsh said, including the UCF game. “I think we’re due for a good year. Let’s hope.”

Murray would prefer that Walsh kicks mostly extra points, not field goals, because that means the Bulldogs are reaching the end zone more.

“If all he’s kicking is extra points, he might not make the record,” Richt said, “but I think he’d trade that. I think he’d make that trade.”

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