April 26, 2010

Walk-on QB grateful for opportunity

Not a day goes by that former Wayne County quarterback Parker Welch doesn't quietly thank Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo for giving him the opportunity to be a preferred walk-on with the Bulldogs.

Talk about a dream come true.

The 6-foot 3 1/2, 215-pounder grew up idolizing the Red and Black, so when Bobo asked during last July's Dawg Nite if he would like to be preferred walk-on, Welch jumped at the opportunity.

In just over another month, Welch's Bulldog journey begins.

"The closer it gets, it's getting more realistic that yes, I'm actually going to get this opportunity," said Welch, who will arrive with the rest of Georgia's incoming freshmen May 31. "I drove from Jesup every weekend of spring practice and stayed with Aaron Murray[/db[. We've become really good buds. I'm just real excited to be started."

Welch won't be the only incoming quarterback with preferred walk-on status.

Columbus High's [db]Greg Bingham also accepted Bobo's offer to come to UGA after a senior season which saw him complete 83 of 166 passes for 1,129 yards and six touchdowns.

Although it will certainly be a long-shot for either to ever see actual time on the field, both Welch and Bingham will have important roles to fill as members of the Bulldog scout team.

Then again, if Logan Gray does decide to transfer to the another school, that would just leave Murray and scholarship freshman Hutson Mason standing in the way of potential playing time should the unthinkable happen and an injury or two occur.

Whatever happens, Welch believes Georgia's quarterback job is in great hands with Murray.

"I've gotten to know Logan while I've been up there and I think Logan is a great quarterback," Welch said. "But to be honest, I do agree with Coach (Mark) Richt to go with Aaron. Aaron's a great person and a great quarterback He studies his tail off. Every time I went up there him, I would leave school on Friday and when I got there, he'd be the only person inside the Butts-Mehre Building studying film long after everyone else had gone to dinner or gone home."

Welch said he plans on putting in just as much work as his new-found bud.

Although he knows he'll come to Athens with no guarantees, he hopes to one day prove his worth to Richt to one day earn a scholarship.

"I hope I can because it would obviously mean a lot, but even if there's no chance I'm still going to work hard and prepare myself, then go out and give it everything I've got," Welch said. "I already feel like I've received a great blessing from God, so I understand if Coach Richt and Coach Bobo can't do that yet. I'll just leave that to them, work hard in the weight room, get bigger and stronger and maybe put myself in position to earn one next year."

Welch has already proven that he's willing to do whatever it takes to get noticed.

As the quarterback Wayne County's Wing-T offense, Welch had to fight the stigma that quarterbacks in that scheme often face - that they can run a pro-style offense as well.

That wasn't his only hurdle.

A high-ankle sprain cost Welch practically his entire senior campaign, and as a result did not receive a single scholarship offer.

But Welch wasn't about to forgo his collegiate dream.

Instead, Welch hit the road, attending numerous summer camps to try and prove to college recruiters that he had what it took to be a success.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier liked what he saw.

After seeing Welch at a Gamecock football camp, the quarterback was asked to walk on at South Carolina.

But the draw of Georgia - plus the fact he qualified for the Hope Scholarship - was too much to turn down.

"I don't regret my decision a bit," Welch said. "This is the chance I've always wanted and I'm going to make the most of it."

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