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Lauren Tolbert / UGA Sports
Georgia junior Jake Camarda has a firm grip on the starting duties.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart talks ‘up for grabs’ kicking competition

ATHENS — A familiar face — and spectacles — will be missing on the Georgia football sideline, and Bulldogs’ fans want to know that all-important box gets checked adequately.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart said junior Jake Camarda has a “pretty solid” hold on the punter duties for what would be a third-straight season, but kicking duties are “up for grabs right now.”

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Competition is a good thing in the sense that freshman 2020 signee kicker Jared Zirkel and sophomore Jack Podlesny appear to be good options.

As those two guys continue to compete, it’ll probably go down to the wire, as far as Podlesny and Zirkel who kicks,” Smart said this week.”

Blankenship left Georgia as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 440 points. The one-time walk-on turned FWAA Freshman All-American turned Lou Groza winner made  80 of 97 field goals and all 200 of his extra-point attempts for the Bulldogs.

Zirkel, a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder from Kerrville, Texas, is known to have a powerful leg.

But Podlesny, who hails from St. Simons Island, has also impressed the head coach, leaving the competition open with the Sept. 26 opening game at Arkansas approaching.

“Pod [Podlesny] and Zirkel are the two really competing for the kick-off job,” Smart said. “Pod has consistently had better hang, but Zirkel has had good hits. Hang time is a big part of that, and Pod has won the hang time and depth battle when it comes to that.”

At the very least, it’s most always a good sign for any player, much less a walk-on, when the head coach refers to you by a nickname.

“As far as field goal kicking, they were pretty similar (last) Saturday,” Smart said, referring to Scrimmage 3.

“Zirkel might have been one percentage point or two percentage points better than Pod. Pod’s had a little better percentage over the body of work.”

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