How Rodrigo Blankenship went from walk-on to ‘weapon’


Highlights

 

When Rodrigo Blankenship first put on a Georgia jersey in 2015, he was a walk-on, paying his own way through college.

Three years later, Blankenship is on scholarship and has become of the most recognizable Bulldogs, thanks to the thick rimmed glasses worn underneath his helmet and reliable leg but to his coach, Blankenship has become a weapon.

“He just continues to pound the ball and does a great job doing it,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He’s a leader on our team. He’s awesome to work with. He’s become a weapon, and we have to use him as such.”

Blankenship and the Bulldogs host Middle Tennessee at noon Saturday at Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs moved kickoff from 7:15 p.m. to noon because of the expected impact of Hurricane Florence. 

» More: Georgia’s large payout to Middle Tennessee State

One of the more reliable kickers in the nation, Blankenship totals an .841 field-goal percentage and has made every extra point he’s attempted in three seasons as a Bulldog. 

While raw talent is one of the main reasons for his success at Georgia, the secret to Blankenship’s growth is found in his work ethic. 

“I really just think that everything that has transpired over the last two years has just been a result of me just trying to work as hard as I can and do everything in my power to be the best teammate and best asset to the team I can be a day in and day out,” Blankenship said. “It’s just me wanting to be the best that I can be for this team and that’s been what’s driven me since I first stepped on campus three years back.”

Since his freshman season when he made 77.8 percent of his field-goal attempts, Blankenship has only gained strength and endurance.  After making both field-goal attempts Saturday against South Carolina and producing touchbacks on all seven Bulldogs kickoffs, Blankenship was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.

A junior from Marietta, Blankenship has not missed on a field goal or an extra-point attempt this season entering Saturday’s game against Middle Tennessee.

“He’s been incredible to be honest with you,” Smart said. “Our special-teams staff does a tremendous job to make sure he’s fresh. He does a tremendous job of taking care of his body. It’s shown in the last two games in the power and drive consistently. Most guys wear out. As the game goes on, they have to get another kicker.”

All those extra reps and focus during practice have caused Blankenship to become so reliable, his offensive teammates know if they can’t get the ball in the end zone at the end of a drive, betting on Blankenship to get three points is almost a sure thing.  

“It definitely feels good just to know that if we don’t score here, we have a guaranteed three points to be on the board,” wide receiver Tyler Simmons said. “He adds a lot to our team other than just being Rodrigo, but those three points, they definitely help us.” 


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in UGA / DawgNation

Leading rusher: UGA running backs in the NFL
Leading rusher: UGA running backs in the NFL

The University of Georgia has an impressive contingent of running backs in the NFL. Todd Gurley is currently the league’s leading rusher. Here is a look at how Gurley and three other running backs are faring this season.
Georgia falls to No. 8 in AP poll
Georgia falls to No. 8 in AP poll

Georgia fell to No. 8 in the Associated Press Top 25 college football poll for Week 8 released Sunday. Georgia fell from No. 2 after a lopsided 36-16 loss at LSU on Saturday, their first defeat of the season. The Bulldogs fell to No. 6 in the Coaches poll. Georgia has a week off before its showdown with No. 11 Florida. 1. Alabama (7-0), 1,524 points...
Billy Payne is selected for golf Hall of Fame
Billy Payne is selected for golf Hall of Fame

Retired Augusta National chairman Billy Payne is among five people selected for induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame.  A 16-member panel of mostly golf administrators also selected two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen; three-time major champion Jan Stephenson; LPGA charter member and renowned teacher Peggy Kirk Bell; and Dennis Walters...
Injury update: Smart ‘hopeful’ LG Solomon Kindley active for LSU game
Injury update: Smart ‘hopeful’ LG Solomon Kindley active for LSU game

Georgia coach Kirby Smart is “hopeful” that left guard Solomon Kindley will play against LSU on Saturday  (3:30 p.m., CBS; News 95.5 and AM-750 WSB).  Kindley “has a mild MCL sprain,” Smart said.  “We think he’s going to be able practice today. We’re hopeful he gets to play, but I won&rsquo...
Georgia remains No. 2 in advance of showdown with LSU
Georgia remains No. 2 in advance of showdown with LSU

Georgia remained No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 college football poll released Sunday. The Bulldogs defeated Vanderbilt, 41-13, on Saturday to improve to a perfect 6-0, 4-0 SEC. Georgia also remained No. 2 in the Coaches Poll. Georgia faces LSU on Saturday in a key SEC game. LSU fell to No. 13, from No. 5, after its loss at Florida. 1. Alabama...
More Stories