Sentell’s Intel is all about the latest Georgia football info. This rep is on freshman kicker Peyton Woodring. He was ranked as the nation’s No. 1 K for the 2023 class. Woodring was also named an Under Armour All-American coming out of Ascension Episcopal School in Louisiana.
The ‘Dawgs already knew all about Peyton Woodring. DawgNation found out a little more about him on Saturday night in Auburn.
Woodring drilled two clutch field goals Georgia desperately had to have in the 27-20 comeback against their oldest rival in the Deep South.
The Lousiana native split the uprights on a 37-yarder in the second quarter to tie the game at 10. He was called on again to provide the ‘Dawgs a 20-17 lead with 10:57 left to play.
The SEC honored Woodring with its Co-Freshman of the Week honor for those efforts.
Those were the definition of confidence kicks for Woodring and for a fan base that would have been chewing fingernails even if Jack Podlesny or Rodrigo Blankenship had been back there. The ‘Dawgs were teetering on the verge of an upset loss on the road in the SEC.
Those moments were compounded after seeing Woodring miss three of his five field goal tries this year against Ball State and South Carolina, respectively.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart knew what he could do. There was a level of excellence Woodring needed to reach in fall camp to beat out a senior kicker with immense leg strength in Jared Zirkel.
When a freshman can do something like that, it reflects their worth. Georgia coach Kirby Smart was asked about Woodring’s showing after the game.
“Yeah big, man,” Kirby Smart said in Auburn. “We’ve been putting a lot of pressure on him in practice, but I don’t know if that simulates it. There’s nothing that simulates what he had to do today. I told the team after the game.”
“He begs to do the pressure kicks in practice. He made them in the game. I think the kid has got something special to him.”
Smar knows what Woodring has been through to be able to be a kicker on scholarship. He knows how hard it is for any true freshman to come in and win a starting position at a place like Georgia.
Placekicker has always been a confidence and talent position. Woodring oozes that.
Peyton Woodring: The backstory DawgNation needs to know
There was a time when 2024 All-American safety Peyton Woodyard and 2023 All-American Peyton Woodring were both set to be Bulldogs. Woodyard committed to UGA in January before flipping to Alabama over the summer.
When they were both heading to Athens, a mental trick was necessary to make sure those two didn’t get tangled up in conversations regarding the future of the Georgia program.
Woodring made it easy to distinguish the two. That’s because he’s got the talent and grit that leads to putting championship rings on the fingers of his team. That’s how I always sorted out the two.
That wasn’t just a projection based on the fact he was rated by the majority of the national recruiting services as the No. 1 kicker in the country. The feeling was derived from speaking to Woodring several times during his recruitment and seeing him and speaking to his family at the Under Armour All-American Game.
Woodring told DawgNation that week he set a goal to be the best kicker in UGA history.
“There have been great kickers before me at Georgia,” Woodring said then. “The plan is always to beat them, though. I want to be the best kicker that’s ever kicked at Georgia. I mean that’s the goal. Just to keep working at that and try to create my own legacy there as they have created theirs.”
He was smart enough to know the rich tradition of kickers in Athens. Yet he still had the gravitas to set a very lofty goal. Kool-Aid doesn’t run through the veins of kickers who tell reporters that. More like ice water from below a frozen lake in Minnesota.
Woodring wore a pink and teal suit to one of his spring dances as a senior. There were white palm trees and pink flamingos on it.
It takes a lot of confidence for any teenager to do that.
That’s what Woodring has always shown. He broke a 20-year-old state record last fall by kicking the longest field goal in Louisiana high school history. Woodring hit that 60-yarder with room to spare.
There are a lot of folks who follow recruiting like it is the stock market for UGA football. They get it. Very few of those folks realize how hard it is for a kicker to earn a scholarship offer at Georgia. The summer specialist camps at UGA resemble a one-day audition.
If a player is merely very good, they are cut from the board. Simply put, only the best kicker who kicks for the Georgia staff earns the offer. That’s after surviving a gauntlet of kicks that day competing against the other top rising senior kickers in the nation.
“They were the top six guys in the country,” he said last summer. “Plus me. You have to have a good day. I had a really good 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 added. “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 continued. “We could not take any steps. Just had to eye judge it and I barely missed it left.”
There was also a style component.
“It is more you can be really accurate but not have the leg strength per se,” Woodring said last summer. “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.”
Smart is usually watching for the most important kicks. Woodring’s decision came down to Alabama or Georgia. He made a silent commitment to Nick Saban but then flipped to Georgia and Smart.
Georgia has only signed two high school kickers to scholarships since Smart was hired in December of 2015.
“Pep” carried a 4.0 GPA and scored a 28 on his ACT in high school. His father was a scholarship pole vaulter at Louisiana-Lafayette.
When a kicker says his dad was a pole vaulter, it makes one believe he can make the big kicks.
Peyton Woodring: He’s always been competing for his spot at Georgia
Woodring’s origin story as a kicker also reflects his makeup. He had a soccer background but was recruited off that team to kick as a freshman in high school. He was the only freshman starter on the varsity. He made his first kick in his first game.
It was also a 38-yarder.
There is also the matter of what he thought was going to be his first instructional camp. As it turns out, he had signed up for a rankings camp. He was there to learn how to kick at a high level, but he just jumped into the deep end to compete against 600 or 700 other kids.
“Dad?” his father Ross Woodring remembers Peyton asking him back then.
“Go do it, brother,” was what he told him.
Woodring won a spot in the Under Armour All-American Game at the National Invitational Scholarship Camp back in July of 2022. He won the kickoff charts and also finished first on the field goal charts at that camp.
That was yet another time when Woodring had to prove himself. He did not get named to the Under Armour All-American Game off talent and film alone.
“So whatever in this he has accomplished other than us supporting him and chaperoning him,” his father Ross Woodring said back in January. “Like his pursuit of training and all of this? This is all self-driven by him and that’s really cool.”
“We weren’t a kicking family. He did this.”
Woodring was also an All-Region baseball player in high school. He played third base and pitched. Woodring told DawgNation that he could get his fastball up into the low 80s.
Smart brought that up on Monday when he was asked about Woodring.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Peyton,” Smart said. “I think he is wired the right way. He was a baseball player. He pitched. When you have these kids that did multiple sports, and they’ve had pressure on them in other environments. I’m a big believer in having to sit on that mound and throw strikes.”
“I mean I’ve been out there. I know how hard it is to do it. So he’s having to do that and kicking in front of 93,000 people. That’s not easy and he’s a true freshman. But he did a nice job going through his process, breathing, handling things well, and you know what, I told him ‘He’s got 10 people out there with him and he’s got another 74 in the locker room that loves him regardless of whether he makes it or not.’”
Smart described that as “unconditional love” from the members of the team.
“He has to know that and be able to relax and kick,” Smart said. “Was very proud of him the way he handled it.”
Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 content with key 2024 prospects like Daniel Calhoun, Dwight Phillips Jr., Dylan Raiola and Sacovie White.
(check on the recent reads on Georgia football recruiting)