Georgia’s position players aren’t the only ones who benefited from Joe Tereshinski’s new strength and conditioning regimen this summer. Place-kicker Blair Walsh has pumped iron to the point that he now gets some ribbing from teammates for rolling up his jersey sleeves to expose his biceps. He states proudly that he’s in the best shape of his life and feeling stronger than ever as the Bulldogs embark on the 2011 season. And if the previous three are any indication, the senior from Boca Raton will be breathing some rare air once the year is over. He’s already fourth on Georgia’s career scoring charts with 304 points and needs 105 to run down Billy Bennett. He has averaged 104 the last two seasons and will need only 10 points to pass Herschel Walker. A Lou Groza Award finalist in 2009 and semifinalist in 2010, Walsh aims to win his position’s top award in this year. He’s already off to a good start as a consensus preseason All-SEC pick and he’s been booming 50-yarders routinely in practice. Following is what Walsh had to say after a practice this past week.
Q: You look like you may have gotten a little bigger since last year. That true?
A: “Yes, I’ve put on some muscle, thank you. I’ve been working hard this offseason. Been working a lot on my core and all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, I feel like I’m in the best shape since I’ve been here.”
Q: Is it important for a kicker to be strong beyond the leg he kicks with?
A: “It’s absolutely important. You’ve got to be in the best shape you can be each and every day because, when you go out on that field, there’s a lot of going on. You have to be ready physically and your stamina has to be up. . . . So you have to be ready to go; you have to be in good shape. I think we’re commonly misconceived as fat and overweight guys who can’t cut it physically. But I think most breeds of kickers nowadays are athletes.”
Q: I assume there’s some occasional hitting involved, too. How many times would you say you have been involved in contact in a game?
A: “I’ve probably been involved in contact at least 10 or 15 times. I’ve been run over a few times [laughs]. I’ve always been able to withstand it pretty well, but I think now I should be able to hold my own even more if somebody breaks out. But if he’s got a head start I’m done. I’m not going to run down anybody.”
Q: What would you say has been your best lick?
A: “Idaho State. The guy came off the corner and was surprised to see me. I got my arms around him and got him to the ground. They gave me a tackle for that one.”
Q: How many career tackles do you have?
A: “I don’t know, three, four maybe.”
Q: So what kind of expectations do you have for this season?
A: “Our expectations are high. We put high expectations on ourselves. Drew [Butler] and I been here for at least four years now and this is our last go-around. We worked hard in the offseason. I know people see that around here and appreciate it. We’re just hoping it pays off in the field.”
Q: Between you and Drew, and of course your snappers and holders and returners, a lot of folks are saying Georgia has the best special teams unit in the country this season. Do you buy that?
A: “We made a goal going into our sophomore years that we were going to be the No. 1 special teams unit when it’s all said and done here, at Georgia and in the nation. I think we’re slowly achieving that goal.”
Q: Georgia already has a commitment from another South Florida kicker, Marshall Morgan. What do you know about him?
A: “I’ve talked to him a few times. He’s a great kid and it seems like he’ll fit in well up here. If he continues to work hard and stay humble I think everything will be fine.”
Q: Do you find it unusual that the past two UGA kickers have come from Florida? Weren’t there some pretty good kickers from Georgia this year?
A: “Georgia looks for a guy that understands his job is important to the team, who works hard and can be dependable. It doesn’t matter if it’s a guy from Georgia or Florida or Alaska, as long as you can go find a guy that can fit that criteria it doesn’t matter. In general, I think kickers are more willing to go out of state to find a place where they fit in and are needed and can be successful.”
Q: There have been a lot of great kickers come through here. You’re on pace to finish as one of the most productive ever. Where do you think you fit into the kicker legacy?
A: “In terms of my legacy, I’m honored just to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of the names that have been around here. [Brandon] Coutu, [Billy] Bennett, [Kevin] Butler, [John] Kasay, [Rex] Robinson, all those guys have been such great kickers here. I really do believe this is “Specialist University.” People always say, it’s Tight End U or Running Back U. I think there’s a lot to be said for calling it Specialist U because of all the great specialists that have been here. People come here and succeed. There’s just something about it. The work ethic has been set by the ones who have come before us. It’s just phenomenal.”