ATHENS — It’s possible that this escaped notice to some of you over the past few months, those of you living in a cave or on the international space station, but Georgia has had a wee bit of offseason news at kicker.
When the season finished, it looked all set for Rodrigo Blankenship to be Georgia’s place-kicker and kickoff specialist. Blankenship was named freshman All-American after going 14-for-18 on field goals, making all his extra points, and emerging as the feel-good story. The self-described quirky kid who did interviews with his helmet on.
Then things got very publicly messy when it came to Blankenship’s scholarship status, and news emerged that Georgia was set to bring in a very qualified graduate transfer kicker, David Marvin. And on scholarship.
In fact, Georgia has seemingly been collecting kicking depth as if it was going out of style. Suddenly, special teams becomes a huge source of intrigue, both this spring and preseason. So with all that backdrop, let’s get to the special teams portion of this depth chart series.
It began with the safeties.
Then we had the cornerbacks.
We moved on to the outside linebackers.
And then of course the inside linebackers.
The very talented defensive line.
Now we come to …
- Returning starter: Rodrigo Blankenship, Soph.
- Others returning: Mitchell Wasson, R-Fr.
- Early enrollees: None.
- On the way: David Marvin, Sr.; Cameron Nizialek, Sr.; Brooke Buce, Fr.
- Analysis: Marvin and Nizialek are graduate transfers with one year of eligibility, Marvin from Wofford and Nizialek from Columbia, both FCS schools. Marvin is the one coming on scholarship, and his credentials make him an obvious candidate to compete with Blankenship for the place-kicker spot. So where does that leave Blankenship, who was a freshman All-American, but still isn’t guaranteed a scholarship? He’s expected to be out there this spring, and then will see where things stand afterwards. By all accounts, Blankenship loves being on the team and doesn’t want to leave, and Kirby Smart and his coaches like what they saw out of Blankenship, who after all was just a redshirt freshman. But the addition of Marvin, and giving him a scholarship, clearly scrambles the picture. It’s not clear whether this was meant to be competition, or insurance, or a nudge out the door. As for the others — Wasson, Nizialek and Buce and whoever else may join the team in a walk-on role — they’re depth, at least as place-kickers.
- Bottom line: This is just guessing, but the coaches’ preference probably would be for Blankenship and Marvin to compete this summer, and then go from there. But the fact Marvin is coming on scholarship, and Blankenship does not have one, leaves the situation very much uncertain.
- Returning starters: Blankenship.
- Others returning: None.
- Early enrollees: None.
- On the way: Marvin, Nizialek.
- Analysis: This was the area that everyone acknowledged Blankenship needed the most improvement. He averaged 62.2 yards on kickoffs, in the lower half of the SEC, with a touchback on 22 of 55 attempts. If Blankenship sticks around, you could foresee a scenario where he wins back the job but Marvin ends up the kickoff specialist.
- Bottom line: Stay tuned.