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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dawgs of the Decade: The Kickers

Through a decade of success, there have been plenty of players who have made their mark in a Georgia uniform, and for the next two weeks, The Telegraph will be giving you the chance to vote on your picks for the Bulldogs’ All-Decade team for the 2000s. We’ll go position-by-position, and you’ll pick the winners by going to www.macon.com/decade to vote.

Our second ballot is for Georgia’s top kicker of the decade, and the nominees are:

(Note: Years as Georgia’s starter in parentheses)

Billy Bennett (2000-2003). Bennett finished his career as one of the most decorated players in school history. When he graduated, he held the SEC record for points (409) and was second in NCAA history. He booted 26 field goals for the 2002 SEC championship team and was named to the All-SEC team twice. He scored 261 points in 2002 and 2003 when the Bulldogs finished a combined 24-4. Bennett missed just three PATs in his career, connecting on 113 straight at one point. His 31 field goals made in 2003 is the SEC record and his six field goals against Georgia Tech in 2001 tied the SEC mark. His 409 career points are 56 more than the next highest tally in Georgia history.

Brandon Coutu (2005-2007). Following in Bennett’s footsteps was no easy task, but Coutu was every bit as consistent as his predecessor. The former walk-on was a perfect 114-for-114 PATs in his career and connected on 80.30 percent of his career field goals, a school record. His six field goals of at least 50 yards ties him for second on Georgia’s all-time list, and only Kevin Butler has made a kick longer than Coutu’s 58-yard bomb in 2005 against Louisiana-Monroe. That field goal still stands as the SEC record for longest without a tee. His 23 field goals made in 2005 rank third on Georgia’s single-season list and helped the Bulldogs to an SEC championship, and his last-second kick against Vandy won the game and sent the Bulldogs on their way to a No. 2 ranking in 2007.

Blair Walsh (2008-present). If Coutu had a big legacy to live up to, the standard by which Walsh would be judged was downright intimidating -- but that didn’t stop him from impressing right from the start. Walsh connected from 52 yards out on his first career field goal try and has been money from long distance ever since. In just two seasons at Georgia, Walsh has already tied Coutu, Rex Robinson and Alan Leavitt for second all time with six field goals of more than 50 yards. In 2009, he finished the regular season 10-of-11 from beyond 40 yards, and his 37-yarder as time expired helped Georgia knock off Arizona State. He has never missed a PAT in his career (87-for-87) and his 90.5 percent success rate in 2009 would rank third all-time for Georgia. He earned a second-team All-SEC nod in 2009 and is a finalist for the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker.

So, who gets your vote? Go to www.macon.com/decade to cast your ballot or vote in our previous categories, and be sure to pick up a copy of the December 27th issue of The Telegraph to find out the winners.

And don't forget to leave your comments here on the blog. Tell us about why you made your selection and your favorite memories of those players, and your comments could appear in our final results issue of The Telegraph.

12 comments:

theworldaccordingtojennifer said...

Here's some Billy Bennett news, though it is a couple of years old. My husband and daughter talked to him at an MGMT concert in San Diego. He was doing some work for the band. My husband had his School Kids Records shirt on and Bennett signed it. At the end of the MGMT set, Billy kicked a football into the crowd.

Anonymous said...

Billy is big time with Chase Park Transduction in Athens.

Anonymous said...

What, no Andy Bailey?

Frank Franklin said...

It's Billy Bennett, no questions asked. Dude was the man. Although it wasn't a particularly long kick, his game-winner at Alabama, followed by his patented airplane celebration, remains one of my favorite Dawg moments from college. Just a clutch kick from a clutch kicker.

Anonymous said...

My vote is for anyone who doesn't do directional kickoffs!

Ozam said...

Bennett was very good but Coutu was money!

Anonymous said...

My vote is for whoooooa billybillybilly.

I still listen to The Whigs' "Give 'Em All A Big Fat Lip" CD, which Billy produced in 2005.

Still some kickin' rock.

Anonymous said...

Definitely Billy Bennett. There were many games where he saved the day.
I'm proud we've had all these guys though.

Anonymous said...

Seemingly, UGA has always been blessed with "great" kickers for decades, this one has been no exception. But in looking at the three most recent for this decade, are we blinded by the inflated need for we have for kickers? Sure they are among the national leaders in points scored, but we rely on FGs more than any of us would like to admit. This may make them heroes to us, but if they are so talented, why has Bennett and Coutu yet to secure a job in the NFL?

With BB I wasn't sure he would succeed in the NFL but I did think Coutu was a lock. Perhaps we have a distorted view of our kickers because we rely on them so much in big games due to our Red Zone failures with TDs. I realize Walsh hasn't had his chance yet but I felt Coutu was every bit as talented. This isn't a knock on any of them, we certainly needed their contributions, but we haven't been "kicker U" as of late.

Brian said...

Anon @ 12:06pm....Find me the last 10 Lou Groza award winners and tell me what team they play for. For whatever reason, college success doesn't translate to NFL success in the kicking game. The only recent exceptions I can think of are Mason Crosby and Nate Kaeding. The rest of the "best" CFB produced are in line with Brandon and Billy for the next open try-out for the Dirty Birds.

Anonymous said...

Brian, I am not going by "award winners" I have been turned off to that by the Heisman. Awards have become political. I am using higher criteria, my opinion. I am not knocking these guys, heck I have been wrong also. I have a decent record of picking players that will make it, and kickers are usually easier, especially since they banned the tee on FGs.

I really thought Coutu would be a hot commodity....along the lines of Butler and Kasey. Cannot believe some team hasn't snatched him up by now.

Hunter said...

Hmm well at this point and time, I would have to say Billie Bennett. The kid was absolutly amazing

However, I think the best of the three is going to be Blair Walsh. I mean 10-11 from 50+? Incredible! and he had plenty of distance on all of them!