Welch finishes Samford career as a Walter-Peyton Award finalist, SoCon passing leader
Liam Welch is leaving Samford University with a litany of awards and a legacy that will likely live on for decades to come.
After six years at Samford, Welch is a two-time Walter Payton Award finalist, Charles Williams Memorial Jersey winner, Second Team All-American, SoCon Co-Offensive Player of the Year, First Team All-SoCon and a ASWA small college athlete of the year winner. But Welch’s impact on the Bulldogs stretches far beyond his athletic ability.
Former teammate and current Bulldogs assistant coach Robert Burke, who referred to Welch as one of his best friends, commented on his meek character and uplifting spirit.
“His arm talent and running ability sure helped us a lot in the spring and fall, but Liam’s care for others, both on and off the field, and being a great teammate was contagious in our locker room,” Burke explained. “Liam is the type of guy who if you ask about his record breaking performances, he wants to mention his O-line for blocking, his skill positions for scoring, and the signal men for doing their job before ever talking about himself.”
Welch started playing football in 2007 in recreation league ball at age 10. Welch tried out for the vacant quarterback spot, and the rest was history. His talent continued to grow as he approached his high school career
In ninth grade, he attended Aquinas High School in Augusta, Georgia — a long-time alma mater for the Welch family, including his father, his father’s nine siblings and his own little brothers as well. In his first year on varsity as a sophomore, the team went on to win the 2013 Georgia State Championship at the Georgia Dome and then played for the title again in 2015.
His list of recognitions in high school foreshadowed his college career. Welch graduated from Aquinas with first team All-State, All-Area and All-Region honors his senior year.
His journey to finding Samford began through a teammate from Aquinas, Will Evans, who went on to play at Ohio University. Evans was being recruited by the Bulldogs at the time, and told them about Welch and his talent and character. In July 2015, Welch attended a football camp held at Samford the summer before his senior year.
Samford quickly became Welch’s top choice after meeting coach Chris Hatcher. Samford’s reputation as a Christian school with highly engaged students, the program’s quarterback-friendly offense and coach Hatcher’s likability, humor, and personability quickly proved to Welch that Samford was the school for him. He committed just a few months later after visiting campus.
Upon coming to Samford, Welch was not expected to start. After four years as a backup behind Devlin “Duck” Hodges and Chris Oladokun, Welch finally earned the starting spot.
“I wish I had bought-in sooner,” Welch said. “I would tell my freshman self to cut out those distractions – those non beneficial things. I quickly learned that I don’t have to pretend to be anybody or anything that I am not. Just me.”
Welch said his actions speak louder than his words.
“I think it is best to just get in there head down and get to work,” he added. “A lot of times, the best thing to say is nothing at all, and if people see you working, they will get in there and do the same thing.”
He also explained that while personal growth is important, it is also crucial to celebrate every victory, big or small, with all of those around him. His character and leadership has been recognized by his teammates, both current and former.
“There are not many teammates of mine that I respect more than Liam Welch,” Will Hudson, Samford’s backup quarterback, said. “Getting to be around him for four years now and seeing the ways he worked, the way he treated his teammates, and the way he was invested in this program and us was really cool and encouraging to see.”
This season, Welch continued to dominate the SoCon one last time. Welch led the conference in completions (315), yards (3366) and touchdowns (22). He threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns against Florida, capturing the attention of football fans across the country.
Welch has proven himself as a premiere talent in the FCS. His talent, combined with his natural ability to lead, could maybe result in an illustrious career in the NFL.
Welch will graduate in December with his MBA and his pro day will be in March as the Bulldogs could potentially have their second quarterback in the NFL in the past four years.