Georgia Team News

Kirby Smart updates status of Georgia’s starting punter, kicker competitions

Rodrigo Blankenship
Steven Colquitt/Georgia athletics

Georgia coach Kirby Smart is getting closer to deciding the Bulldogs’ starting punter and kicker competitions for the 2017 season.

Smart said following Saturday’s scrimmage that Cameron Nizialek leads in the starting punter competition, while the kicker competition is more even to this point.

Nizialek, a graduate transfer who last played at Columbia, has been battling for the spot with returning starter Marshall Long, who played in nine games before suffering a dislocated kneecap that ended his season early.

“Punter competition is leaning more and more probably towards Cam,” Smart said. “He’s done a really good job. Marshall’s done well too, but I don’t think Marshall’s past the (knee) injury completely. He’s still coming back from that.”

RELATED: Kirby Smart confirms ‘small broken bone’ in CB Malkom Parrish’s foot

In three seasons at Columbia, Nizialek averaged 41.3 yards per punt; Long averaged 38.7 yards per punt last season.

At kicker, returning redshirt sophomore starter Rodrigo Blankenship and graduate transfer David Marvin are battling for the job, though it seems possibly that they could share duties at the position.

“The field goal kicking (competition) is tight,” Smart said. “The kicking off is (good). I will say this, Rod kicked off really good today. Then the field goal kicking is really tight. It will probably be decided with this week. But Rod’s kicking off really well.”

Blankenship earned the job during the season last fall, converting 14 of 18 field goal attempts with a long of 49 yard. He also made all 26 extra points he attempted.

Blankenship, though, was not as strong on kickoffs with touchbacks on only 38.2 percent of his tries.

Marvin made 17 of 23 field goals with a long of 57 yards and had a 49.3 touchback percentage last season at Wofford.

RELATED: ‘No days off’: Watch Georgia kicker, punter practice field goal on the beach

(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)

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