Ham has full plate at UGA


Former Stratford standout William Ham has taken over the placekicking duties for the ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. (Photo courtesy of John Kelley/Georgia Sports Communications.)

By NICK DOROGY, Gazebo Sports Writer

After redshirting his freshman year of college, University of Georgia kicker William Ham quit football his sophomore year.

Ham graduated from Stratford Academy in 2014 as a five-star kicker ranked 18th in the country for his graduating class.

However, in Georgia’s 33-24 win over North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic last week, Ham was back on the field.

This time, he was a starter.

Ham stopped playing in March 2015 during Georgia’s spring practices.

“I felt like I was questioning if I loved football,” Ham explained. “But last summer I was back home and saw a couple reruns (of Georgia football games). My teammates were on there, and I really missed it.”

When Kirby Smart was named head football coach last December, he contacted Ham about rejoining the team.

“Coach called me in class and I slipped out of my seat to go talk to him,” Ham said. “We met up, and I talked to coach. He asked if I had any interest in coming back… I thought and prayed about it. I was happy to have a semester as a normal college student instead of an athlete.”

Ham took advantage of his second chance.

With the new coaching staff in place, Ham was “fortunate to get a second chance — they don’t come around that often.”

After competing for the position with Rodrigo Blankenship, Ham won the starting job handling field goals and extra points. Later in the North Carolina game, Ham began handling kickoffs as well.

Although he missed a 44-yarder in his first collegiate attempt, Ham knocked in his second try from 29 yards. It was a pivotal play in the game, putting the Bulldogs on top 26-24. He also kicked all four extra points for the Dogs.

Ham didn’t forget about his high school, though.

“When I practice at school during the week it gets crazy busy,’’ he said. “Night is the only time I can chill out, and Stratford prepared me very well academically. Now I know how to answer a college class question whether in English or a major class I didn’t even take at Stratford.”

He wasn’t finished with his praise for his alma mater.

“I really know what work ethic is it helps me be at ease,” he said. “Having good conversations with teachers at Stratford helped me be able to talk with older people whether professors, coaches, donors, or fans. I feel like I really can talk to people older than me.”