SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Officially, Rodrigo Blankenship was placed on scholarship Friday when coach Kirby Smart informed him of the news.
But if you’re asking when he truly earned it, the argument could be made that came much sooner – if there’s even a precise date that can be named.
Because with Blankenship, the journey to it came with hurdles and controversy – all of which he handled with class despite his placement in a tough spot.
Blankenship, a third-year sophomore, began his journey as many do, especially for ones of his position. Though a top recruit in high school, he wasn’t on scholarship. He went on to redshirt that first season only to get edged out for the starting job by William Ham a year ago. Certainly at that point he wasn’t going to get a scholarship, considering only so many on the team can be on one.
But things changed. He later won the job and played well, finishing the season 14 of 18 on field goal attempts.
At that point, as the apparent starter of the future, it would seem that putting Blankenship on scholarship would be a no brainer, right? Well, not exactly – and it only escalated from there.
Before the season had even ended, his father was publicly voicing his displeasure about his son’s lack of scholarship, citing financial reasons as the need for it. It only continued after the season, too.
The controversy became so big in fact that Blankenship put out a statement on his own accord to make it clear he was focusing only on what he could control and not complaining about his lack of scholarship.
He wasn’t bluffing.
It would have been human nature for Blankenship to take an immature path, especially when knowing things like the starting punter, holder and long snapper were all on scholarship themselves. After Georgia picked up kicker transfer David Marvin and put him on scholarship, that easily could have been some kind of final straw.
Instead, he battled for the job with Marvin, proving himself again when he was announced as the starter just before the start of the season. That, so far, has also continued into the season to this point.
Through two games, Blankenship has made 3 of 4 field goals, including a 30-yarder late in the fourth quarter Saturday that proved to be the game winner in its 20-19 victory at Notre Dame.
For Blankenship, he insisted nothing has or will change in his approach to his job when speaking with reporters after the game. Given his history, there’s nothing much to use to argue against that.
But he also did say the scholarship was a “dream come true” for him and the postgame locker room celebration when the news of it was made public provided some proof of that.
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) September 10, 2017
Many probably could have related to Blankenship’s situation. College isn’t cheap and many struggle to get by with the expenses that come along with it.
Things, though, also have a tendency of working out for the best. Blankenship ultimately was rewarded the scholarship for his play on the field. But it was what came in the process to that point that proved it was all worth it.
(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)
© 2016, gridironnow.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.