Rodrigo Blankenship wasn’t a typical walk-on kicker. He made the U.S. Army All-American game. One outlet ranked him as the nation’s seventh-best prospect in the 2015 class. He passed on scholarships to smaller schools, including Colorado State, in order to walk on at Georgia, which hoped Blankenship could sit a year, win the place-kicker job, and go on scholarship.
Three games into the season, Blankenship has yet to try a field goal or an extra point. He lost out to another walk-on, William Ham, who is struggling immensely, going 2-for-5.
“They’ve got competition between each other, and that will continue,” head coach Kirby Smart said Monday, somewhat wearily.
Now there’s a shocker.
This past signing day, Smart said that “in my history, I found that you can find more quality kickers through the walk-on route than you can quality punters.” That’s why they signed Marshall Long, who had committed to Virginia Tech, where Shane Beamer was before coming to Georgia as special-teams coordinator.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean a policy against signing kickers to scholarships, as Smart clarified this week. The reason they didn’t sign any this year was that “when I got here this year every good kicker that I knew from recruiting was going to sign somewhere.” (Or, since Long had been committed to another school, Smart and Beamer just weren’t able to also flip a place-kicker.)
“We’re going to always go in and recruit kickers. It’s a matter of whether we’re going to commit a scholarship to it or not,” Smart said. “That is not a policy by any means. I firmly believe that you’ve got to have a great kicker.”
Except this year.