“They were going to wait probably until after the camp season to officially offer me,” Woodring said. “Then I went to ‘Bama on the 11th.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound rising senior used his own verb to describe what Nick Saban did.
“Coach Saban scholarshipped me two days later,” he said. “They gave me the offer. Then I told the coaching staff at Georgia that I just got offered.”
Georgia had to rally.
“So the next day Coach [Kirby] Smart got on a Zoom with me and offered me,” Woodring said. “That was a Tuesday. I knew that Georgia was the place I wanted to be so I committed.”
That said, Woodring did not Commit to the G during that initial Zoom.
“My family and I talked about it,” Woodring said. “Kind of looked at everything. Took in everything. All the information. It was an easy choice after looking at everything. It was where I wanted to be.”
The nation’s No. 4 PK (per Kohl’s Kicking) then called Smart that Friday night. He silently committed to Smart and went on to release it the next day.
A.D. Mitchell and Kelee Ringo didn’t play a part in this win over Alabama. But the national champion punter Jake Camarda did.
“With even Jake Camarda, one of the reasons I chose Georgia was that Jake Camarda reached out to me,” Woodring said. “He made it an easy decision. He told me about how the program is run. He and I personality-wise are really similar. We are both really competitive dudes and he was successful in that environment. I feel like I’m going to be just as successful as him.”
Why was it Georgia? Woodring has a detailed answer.
“So really it was the environment around the whole program,” he said. “I felt like I fit in better personality-wise in that situation. The coaching staff is awesome. Coach [Scott] Cochran. [Special teams analyst] Coach [Dirk] Benedict. Adam Ray. They are all great people. They really prioritize special teams at Georgia.”
“Then also when I got on the phone and got on a call with Coach Smart, he really emphasized that I was a big part for them and they really wanted me. They didn’t want anyone else in my class.”
“Also Athens. Athens is great. That is the best college town in America. Oh yeah.”
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5-star PK Peyton Woodring had to come out as the top kicker at a grueling specialist prospect camp this summer to earn his UGA offer. (Courtesy photo)
Peyton Woodring: A few quick-hit things about the next ‘Dawg kicker
If you are the DawgNation.com reader that enjoys a good speed read through the Woodring Intel file, this section will split the uprights for you.
Let’s get our steps here and line it all up.
- His leg is very strong. That’s the reason why he eventually got the Alabama and Georgia offers. Woodring nailed 14 of his 19 attempts as a high school junior. That included a career-long of 56 yards in the Louisiana state playoffs. He was named to the MaxPreps.com Junior All-American first team after that season.
- The big leg really presents itself on kickoffs. He sent 66 of his 76 kickoffs back for touchbacks last fall.
- Woodring can enroll early, but he’s not sure yet what he will do. That’s about a “50/50” thing. He plays baseball for Ascension Episcopal. Woodring is weighing enrolling early against one more spring season for his high school team.
- He plays third base and also pitches. Woodring can hum it in there from the right side and top out at about 84 miles per hour on the gun. As a pitcher, his specialty trait is hitting his spots.
- Those that know him best call him by the nickname “Pep.”
- He’s taking a look at majoring in Economics. He carries a 4.0 GPA and a 28 on his ACT.
- Woodring has a soccer background. He could kill the ball growing up. He found himself kicking the soccer ball four hours every day during his formative years. He was a center-midfielder. That’s a good gauge for his skill set on the pitch.
- He thanks his parents for being great role models. His father was a scholarship pole vaulter at Louisiana-Lafayette. His mother could have played college softball, but chose to focus on her nursing studies. “I am just so grateful for both of them,” he said.
- He’s relatively new to kicking. He wasn’t going to play football in high school, but midway through the summer one of his coaches convinced him to try out. The varsity needed a kicker. He soon worked his way to being the only freshman starter on the varsity.
- Woodring played club soccer through middle school but gave it up in high school. He only played high school soccer for one year. The demands of varsity baseball and varsity football became just too much for him.
Woodring chose football over soccer early in his high school career. That’s even though he wasn’t that great as a freshman.
Football won him over after his first game. He wasn’t that big of a fan of the sport during that first summer and fall camp. The practices were a grind. They weren’t that exciting.
He fell in love with the game after his first kick.
“My first Friday night game,” he said. “That was great. That pretty much put football over the top. That was when it turned into my favorite sport. It was when I got to play that first game as a freshman.”
He was as nervous as he’s ever been for his first field goal try. He’ll never forget that first attempt.
It was from 38 yards. Right hash. Right before halftime.
“After I made it, though, it was awesome,” he said. “It definitely changed my perspective on football. I didn’t really enjoy it as much. Like summer practices and all. But then after that, I was like ‘I love it’ and I really wanted to get good at it. That way I didn’t miss.”
After that season, he started to dial in on kicking. The pandemic quarantine allowed him to really focus on his training.
“After I started trying, I knew I was good,” he said. “I didn’t know that I would be in the position I am today. I’m very grateful that I am.”
Woodring realizes the mental side of being a kicker is vital.
“I try to just get back there and let my form take over,” he said. “I don’t think about it too much, because when you start thinking is when the pressure starts getting to you. I just take a deep breath and do what I’m good at. Stick to what I am good at and perform.”
“A big thing is not succumbing to the pressure and letting it get to your head.”
Louisiana PK Peyton Woodring played soccer and baseball in high school before focusing on kicking in football. (Courtesy photo)
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Proving ground: How kickers get their scholarships
The road to a scholarship offer for a kicker is rough.
It doesn’t matter what the film says. Or the stats. A kicker could come in with 70-yard kicks on their resume. They could offer a Janikowskian leg.
If they flop during that camp session, they can forget about getting that prized offer. The specialist camp is all about doing it when all the coaches are watching. That will include head coach Kirby Smart.
That ratchets up the pressure considerably.
That said, the future Smart kicker also needs to have done their homework before stepping into that pressure cooker. Kicker scholarships are usually for four years. That means schools like Alabama and Georgia only try to identify and offer and sign their kicker every four years.
Georgia offered Texas kicker Jared Zirkel a scholarship in the 2020 class. When he arrived, walk-on Jack Podlezny won the job. He enrolled at UGA in the fall of 2018 and graduated last fall. He’s back for what should be his final season this fall.
“Georgia began standing out to me this past season,” Woodring said. “Their past season. I knew who would probably scholarship because you know the way that kickers work. You know who is going to be leaving because of their eligibility. I knew that ‘Bama would be offering and Georgia would probably be offering for the 2023 class.”
“Those were the top two that I wanted. I set my goal, went out and went to go get it.”
That’s why he chose to camp for those two schools. He had been talking to the Georgia staff and knew the best guy there that day, provided they did well, would earn that lone scholarship offer.
Georgia has offered 35 receivers and 39 interior defensive linemen in this class. There are 27 cornerback offers. The Bulldogs have offered seven tight ends, nine running backs and 12 quarterbacks.
That’s all initially off of film and background research. All of those offers usually come before they camped in Athens this month. That initial offer then has to grow into a committable offer.
Woodring had to beat out the nation’s best to earn the only offer that Georgia has given to a kicker in the 2023 class.
“When you go to all these camps, they invite the best kickers in the country,” Woodring said. “Whenever we were at Georgia, they had seven guys. They had six other guys plus me.”
“They were the top six guys in the country,” he said. “Plus me. You have to have a good day. I had a really day and also at Alabama I had a really good day which was the reason I got that offer.”
They had a gamut of kicks. Woodring went 13 for 15 on his. He had to extend his range out to 57 yards.
“We pushed it back,” he said. “Me and only one other guy could make it. The far ones. So really just my leg strength just sealed the deal for them.”
His plant foot slipped on one of those misses.
“The other miss they had us run from the sidelines,” Woodring said. “We could not take any steps. Just had to eye judge it and I barely missed it left.”
There was also a style component. He didn’t just have to make his kicks.
“It is more you can be really accurate but not have the leg strength per se,” Woodring said. “My balls were going significantly farther past the uprights than the others. They were getting hit higher and going further. I think that’s really what sold it.”
He was aided by his junior season. Woodring made 14 of his 19 tries last fall on his way to All-American status. He didn’t miss a single kick within 47 yards.
Those long-range tries are dependent on a good snap and a solid hold.
“Whenever you are in high school, the holder and the snapper aren’t as elite,” he said. “Of the 14 for 19, there were about three bad ones. It is easier whenever you get to college and you get a really really good holder and snapper that are really consistent.”
When he’s eventually kicking in Athens, his leg power will stand out early and often.
“My kickoffs, they are pretty much, they are the best in the country,” he said.
Georgia football landed a commitment from 5-star kicker Peyton Woodring on Saturday.
Bottom lines: A few more things to know about Peyton Woodring
The reputation for the Bulldogs on special teams was another thing that drew him to Athens.
Think about Blair Walsh and Rodrigo “Hot Rod” Blankenship for a minute. Camarda, the recent fourth-round NFL Draft pick, also caught his eye.
“I took a visit during the spring,” Woodring said. “After the camp, I did another visit. I stayed after practice and talked to all the other guys in that room. Then I am going to take my official visit during a game this fall.”
Woodring has the conference that any national championship contender wants to see in their clutch kicker.
“I’m a competitive dude,” he said. “I don’t like losing and not succeeding. I will do whatever I need to in order to succeed. They are going to get the best field goal kicker that they have had yet.”
“I like being the best at what I do. That always drives me. Always getting better. Being the best. Until I am the best, I won’t stop. So that’s always been my thing.”
The night he told Smart he was a ‘Dawg, he slept better than he had in a while. Then he woke up a ‘Dawg.
“I hadn’t slept real good the last few nights kind of going back and forth over it,” he said. “After I made that call, it was awesome. Coach Smart’s reaction was awesome seeing, too.”
He said Kirby was laying on his couch.
“When I told him his eyes got real big,” he said. “He was pumped up.”
5-star PK Peyton Woodring committed to UGA in the 2023 class. (Courtesy photo)
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