ATHENS, Ga. — Few people likely knew much of anything about Rodrigo Blankenship before last Saturday.
But one game-winning field goal – and a memorable postgame interview to follow – later and suddenly things have changed.
After his 25-yard field goal helped Georgia knock off Kentucky on the road in last Saturday’s 27-24 win, Blankenship spoke – helmet and “rec specs” on included – with SEC Network’s Kaylee Hartung on live television.
Since then, he has gained newfound fame both on the internet and on campus, which he has taken to heart.
When he met with reporters after practice Wednesday, Blankenship ran with the moment and wore his helmet again. And at least for him in the moment, the notoriety has been fun.
“I’ve seen a good bit of it just from my (social media) accounts,” said Blankenship, who initially was told not to wear the helmet. “Because you get those push notifications every time you get mentioned or tagged in a picture. Also, some of the stuff I’ve gotten from my friends and family. They text me or direct message me, ‘Hey check this out man.’”
Off the field, the redshirt freshman kicker said he keeps a low profile when attending classes and getting around campus, adding that he normally wears regular glasses whenever not playing football.
In addition to having the image of his postgame interview go viral, Blankenship said one student went as far as to show up to one of his classes wearing rec specs. (The student then had a photo taken with Blankenship and another student, which has been shared to Twitter.)
His teammates also playfully give him shoutouts on social media. One, from linebacker Reggie Carter, shared a photo of Blankenship in the locker room with a caption that read: “Not all superheroes wear capes! #Goggles.”
With the attention and uptick in Twitter and Instagram followers, Blankenship hopes he can capitalize off the moment.
“I just want to get verified honestly,” Blankenship said. “That’d be nice.”
But there’s another way he hopes to be rewarded, too. Now having made nine of 10 field goals since taking over as the team’s place kicker, Blankenship hopes to get on scholarship with the program for next season.
On Monday, Georgia coach Kirby Smart was asked about the possibility of awarding one to his place kicker.
“We determine that kind of stuff at the end of the year,” Smart said. “We look at the whole, where we are at, go through recruiting. We’re obviously in hot pursuit of some good specialists because that is an area that we’ve got to improve on. That will be based off how he finishes up, the whole picture. He’s certainly done a great job and gained a lot of confidence, which I’m fired up about.”
Blankenship’s father, Ken Blankenship, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an email earlier in the week that his son would transfer to an FCS school for financial reasons and to avoid sitting out a year.
“Rodrigo has committed to the ‘G,’ but we are puzzled why Coach Smart has not yet committed to the ‘R,’” Ken Blankenship told the AJC in an email.
When asked about his father’s comments, Blankenship said he wasn’t thinking about that.
“I just need to take each week one week at a time,” Blankenship said. “I just want to focus on the aspects of my life that I can control. That’s just trying to kick as well as I can on a daily basis and kick as well I can on Saturdays.”
No, for now, he’s living in the moment, which includes wearing a helmet to an interview.
“I’d say I’m pretty weird in general,” Blankenship said. “I am wearing a helmet right now.”
(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)
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