Georgia Team News

Sophomore Rodrigo Blankenship wins Georgia’s kicking job

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia has its kicker to start the 2017 season.

Sophomore Rodrigo Blankenship, who was 14-of-18 on field goals last season but whose lack of a scholarship became a story, beat out Wofford grad transfer David Marvin, who was one of the best kickers in the FCS ranks.

“Rodrigo’s going to kick off,” coach Kirby Smart said Tuesday. “Rodrigo’s also going to do the place-kicking. David will do some other things for us. But Rodrigo’s done a really good job and been consistent.”

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Smart went on to say it was a tight competition between Blankenship and Marvin, and that consistency became the determining factor.

It has been well-publicized that Blankenship has been angling for a scholarship with the program. Smart said he has an “opportunity” to earn one, but rules with defensive end Chauncey Manac deciding to transfer during the semester could keep him from getting one right now.

Blankenship took over the kicking responsibilities from William Ham early in the 2016 season. Blankenship hit a 25-yarder on the final play of the game to lift Georgia to a 27-24 win over Kentucky. Blankenship also had 21 of his 55 kickoffs go for touchbacks.

Marvin was 17-of-23 on field goals last season, including a 57-yarder. He also averaged 46.2 yards per punt.

Smith said Cameron Nizialek is going to handle Georgia’s punting duties; he is a graduate transfer from Columbia and beat out sophomore Marshall Long.

Smart said he has not decided on his return men.

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“We’re probably going to have Mecole (Hardman) or Sony (Michel) back on kickoffs,” Smart said. “We’ve got to work on that tomorrow and finalize that.

“Then punt, there’s some different options we’ve got there. We’ve got some different things we’ll look at. Terry’s (Godwin) has done a great job, Mecole’s done a good job and Ahkil’s (Crumpton) done a great job. So those three guys will all continue in that same mode.”

(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)

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