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Post Kickers get competition

Thursday March 26, 2009

Mark Richt joked at the end of the season that he’d go to “Poland or something to find a guy who can kick it out of the end zone.” San Diego is a little closer to home, but Richt wasn’t kidding when he said he’d bring in help for the kickoff difficulties.

Junior college kicker Brandon Bogotay has signed a letter of intent with the University of Georgia football team according to an announcement Thursday by Bulldog head coach Mark Richt.

While Richt says that he looks forward to Bogotay “competing on our kickoff, field goal, and extra point teams,” it’s likely to be on kickoffs where Bogotay gets his biggest opportunity. “I’m very comfortable with Blair (Walsh) as our extra-point and field-goal kicker,” Richt said after the Georgia Tech game. “It’s just that kickoffs have not really landed where they ought to land on a consistent basis.” I wouldn’t cast off Walsh into the Andy Bailey category just yet.

According to Marc Weiszer, Richt adds that Bogotay “has the capability of kicking the ball deep and that’s what we’re hoping to make sure we shore up.” Bogotay was 15-of-23 on field goals last year, and that’s exactly the same as Walsh managed in his first season. As another coincidence, both Walsh and Bogotay had a 52-yard kick as their longest field goal in 2008.

So if Bogotay is supposed to be the answer for kickoffs, you’re probably wondering how well he does it. He kicked off 52 times last season and had a total of 20 touchbacks. By comparison, Walsh kicked off 75 times last season and had just 4 touchbacks. Marc Weiszer also links to this video of Bogotay in action. (The kickoffs begin around 1:50 in.) Definitely impressive, but of course highlight videos never show the bad plays (if any). He obviously has the power to kick it through the end zone, and it’s important to note that, because it was junior college football, this footage shows him kicking off from the 30 yard line. Most footage of high school kickers has them kicking off from the 40 so you never know just how well it’s going to carry over into college.

A lot of people disagree with carrying three kickers on scholarship, but we also saw how frustrating and damaging it can be to shorten the field as the result of poor kickoffs. If this can fix the kickoff problem, it’s a scholarship well spent. And, again, Walsh still has plenty of potential as a placekicker.

Bogotay was also offered a scholarship by Hawaii. He’ll have three years of eligibility remaining.

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