Blair Walsh’s size-9 cleats are on their way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, a stunning achievement for the 23-year-old place-kicker from Boca Raton, who, just one year earlier, struggled through his most challenging season as a football player.
Seeing the potential in his booming right leg, the Minnesota Vikings looked past Walsh’s on-field struggles during his senior year at the University of Georgia and selected him in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL draft. The former standout at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale rewarded the Vikings’ faith with a rookie season for the ages when it comes to kickers. Walsh set NFL records for most field goals of 50 yards or more in a season and highest single-season field-goal percentage by a rookie.
Here’s a look at Walsh, by the numbers:
At the University of Georgia
• Made 184 of 185 PATs
• Converted 76 of 103 field goal attempts
• Longest made field goal: 56 yards (senior year against Coastal Carolina)
2012 with the Vikings
• Signed four-year contract worth $2.2 million and a $118,000 signing bonus
• 2012 AP All-Pro First Team (only rookie selected)
NFL Records in 2012
• Most field goals of 50 yards or more in a season: 10
• Most field goals of 50 yards or more without missing: 10
• Most field goals of 37+ yards in a game: 5 (tied with Chris Boniol)
• Highest field goal percentage in a season by a rookie: 92.1 percent (35 of 38)
• Most field goals in a season by a rookie: 35 (tied with Ali Haji-Sheikh)