The SEC’s all-time leading scorer tallied four field goals for the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday, all coming in the pivotal stages of the game –– one tied the Jacksonville Jaguars at the end of regulation and the other clinched victory in overtime.
The performance was enough to oust San Francisco’s David Akers, who kicked an NFL record-tying 63-yard field goal, for the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award.
“I thought about the whole game numerous times before we actually played and [the outcome] was never how I had played it out in my head,” Walsh said. “To play in front of all of the fans here and for the Vikings was really a dream of mine. I’m glad I got to finally make it happen.”
Walsh was arguably the best kicker in college football during the first three years of his tenure in Athens. But an average of one missed field goal per game (14 total) in his senior season diminished that accreditation.
When asked if losing some of that put a chip on his shoulder entering training camp this August, he said, “I think I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t.”
“I definitely have a little bit to prove after my season didn’t go too well last year. I’ve always been a hard worker, and I try to think that’s why I got to this level. I know it’s going to take a long time to be established here, but that’s what I’m trying to be.”
Walsh understands how quickly an NFL career can end, especially if a player’s performance isn’t up to par. He says his work ethic helps ensure that his won’t terminate any time soon.
“There are only 32 people who have a job as a kicker in the NFL and I’m so blessed and fortunate to have one of them,” Walsh said. “I work every day to try and keep that.”
Former All-American punter and Bulldog teammate Drew Butler understands that better than anyone. Unlike Walsh, Butler went undrafted, but later signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After heavy competition during the preseason, Butler finally secured the starting spot just prior to week one.
“When he was battling for his job in Pittsburgh, I was talking to him all the time,” Walsh said. “Drew is one of my very good friends, and I’m so happy for him that he got his job with the Steelers. He had a great first game, and I know he’s looking to build on that as well.”
Walsh is impressed with what he’s seen from the Bulldogs thus far and believes they have the talent to get back to Atlanta.
“Georgia will have a very good chance to run the table in the East and represent the East in the [SEC] championship game,” Walsh said while acknowledging that he’ll be in attendance for the Georgia Southern game on Nov. 17. “Right now they need to be focused on winning out in the SEC and taking care of those conference games.”
But can the Bulldogs take down the top talent from the SEC West such as Alabama or LSU?
“To beat those teams, you’re going to have to take some risks to make big plays. But Louisiana-Monroe showed last week [that] those teams aren’t unbeatable,” Walsh said in reference to the Warhawks’ victory over then-No. 8 Arkansas. “I think every team in college football has the ability to lose and that’s the great thing about it.”