ATHENS — Kirby Smart had a quick answer on Wednesday when asked how he felt about Georgia’s field goal kicking situation.
“Scared to death,” he said, smiling.
He was only being a bit hyperbolic. Georgia lost Marshall Morgan, who was the team’s kicker for four seasons. And the Bulldogs did not sign any for next year.
But the Bulldogs did sign a punter, Marshall Long, despite Brice Ramsey, who finished out last season as the punter, still having two years of eligibility. Long de-committed from Virginia Tech after Shane Beamer left there to become Georgia’s special teams coordinator.
“In my history, I’ve found that you can find more quality kickers through the walk-on route than you can quality punters,” Smart said. “And after sitting down, sharing ideas, talking to people in the NFL, people that have experience even at the college level, we felt like as a staff that it was going to be harder to manufacture punting than it would be field goal or place-kicking.”
That led to the offer for Long, who Smart said was “held in high regard” as a punter.
“We felt like he could fill a void for four years, and be a really good one,” Smart said.
But what about field goal kicker? Smart said they would try to “find out what we have here” during spring practice. Rodrigo Blankenship and William Ham are two who could compete for it. Smart said the staff would also still look for other candidates, whether it be a transfer or a preferred walk-on.
“We’re gonna try to get the best kickers we can, to make that a competitive environment, so we can improve the kicking game, and essentially find the guy that can be the field goal kicker for us,” Smart said. “Because it’s a little scary coming in, even for Shane, saying: Wait a second, we don’t have a punter, we don’t have a returning snapper that started, and we don’t have a field goal kicker. That’s a little overwhelming. But we didn’t want to commit a scholarship to a kicker as of now. We’ll see how that goes.”