Rodrigo Blankenship: From Walk-on to Superstar
Cover Photo: getty images
By. Andrew Rodberg (twitter.com/AndrewRod2019)
ATHENS, GA— When anyone is asked to name who plays for the Bulldogs, many answer with Jake Fromm, D’andre Swift and JR Reed but the silent sleeper has always been kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. Blankenship in three years time has gone from another player on the roster to a household name and fan favorite.
A native of Marietta, Georgia, Rodrigo played soccer and football in high school. Knowing he wanted to wear the red and black, he committed to UGA as a walk on (12/15/2014) and didn’t look back. It wasn’t always easy for Rodrigo as he didn’t earn the starting job until 2016, where he had a stellar year, drilling 14/18 field goals with a long of 49. After finally tasting the field, Blankenship was ready to show the Nation what he could do!
In his sophomore year, he was able to really to make a name for himself after being named the starting kicker. He knocked in 20/23 field goals and none were as big as his career long vs Oklahoma (55 yards) in the CFP Semifinal Rose Bowl. Rodrigo’s support and fan base not only grew following that kick but he ultimately became the most popular player on the Georgia roster.
“Hot Rod”, as many refer to him as, not only showed up in the Rose Bowl but also in the National Championship vs Alabama. He made a 51 yard field goal that not only made him 2/2 beyond 50+ but exceeded his 50 personal best before the Rose Bowl. With Rodrigo being the reliable kicker Georgia needed, he began doing kickoffs and booting balls through the back of the end-zone.
His junior year was more of the same… Hot Rod not only was determined to get better but he strived to be the “Mr. Consistent” the Dawgs needed to stay atop the national rankings. Rodrigo went 19/23 in 2018 and once again was perfect from 50+ as the Dawgs fell short of the 2018 College Football Playoffs.
With his ceiling at an all time high, Rodrigo decided it was in his best interest to return to UGA for his senior year as he and the Dawgs chased for that elusive National Championship. As 2019 has gotten underway, Blankenship has been perfect with a quick 8/8 in field goals in the first 4 games. Wit Rodrigo sitting at #4 on the all-time points by kicking with 358 only trailing:
- 412 – Blair Walsh, 2008-11 (76 FG’s, 184 PAT’s: SEC Record)
- 409 – Billy Bennett, 2000-03 (87 FG’s, 148 PAT’s)
- 407 – Marshall Morgan, 2012-15 (64 FG’s, 215 PAT’s)
Rodrigo looks to cement his name in the record books as the best kicker in UGA history. As he only need 55 total points with 8 games remaining in the regular season, it is inevitable that he will achieve this feat. (needs an average of 7 points a game)
Nowadays, it is hard to come by reliable kickers and Georgia is sure glad to have him on their roster. Its obvious that he is a fan favorite as Sanford Stadium shows their support while earning the teams loudest cheers during introductions.
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