ATHENS – There have been some big names on this list so far, including an All-American. But the third-most important Georgia player for 2012 is someone that many Bulldog fans may not know yet.
But this rookie’s name will be known fairly quickly.
WHY HE'S VITAL: Because he’s the kicker. … The explanation could stop there, but we’ll go on. From the moment Morgan committed to Georgia, in February of his junior year of high school, he was ticketed to replace Blair Walsh. The fact both kickers are from south Florida will only accentuate the comparisons. Walsh did struggle as a senior, which reminded Bulldog fans of the importance of the kicking spot. Georgia will also have a new punter, with freshman Collin Barber set to replace Drew Butler. But place-kicker is the more critical spot, and it will be interesting to see how Morgan handles the limelight. The coaching staff will do its best to keep pressure off their freshmen kicker, but there’s a good chance that Morgan will have at least one key kick that either wins or loses a game. Morgan will also likely handle kickoffs.
QUOTABLE: “The tandem of those guys (Walsh and Butler) over their career was phenomenal. So we’ve got to get the best in the country. We’ve got to get the very best. And so we feel like we did that.” – Mark Richt, on Morgan and Butler.
BEST CASE: Morgan proves unflappable, and excels as a freshman. Walsh was 15-of-22 on field goals as a freshman, with a long of 52, and perfect on extra points. That would be an acceptable debut season for Morgan, but Georgia would prefer he replicate Walsh’s sophomore season (20-of-22). That would go a long way towards turning around Georgia’s moribund special teams.
WORST CASE: Morgan struggles as much as Walsh did as a senior. The Bulldogs are forced to take a look at some of the walk-ons, to see if they can give Georgia a push. Special teams again is a major weakness.
FINAL WORD: You can never predict the ups and downs of place-kicking, as last season showed at Georgia. But the Bulldogs feel they’ve recruited as well as they have to be in good shape at this spot.