WATCH: Georgia fan favorite Rodrigo Blankenship shares special and surprising moment
ATHENS — Rodrigo Blankenship will certainly go down as one of the most memorable and celebrated kickers in college football history.
On Saturday, the Georgia football fan favorite became the all-time leading scorer in UGA history (418 points), which also ranks second in SEC history.
Blankenship, a former walk-on from Marietta who earned FWAA Freshman All-American honors and ultimately a scholarship, hit four field goals to lift the No. 4-ranked Bulldogs to a 19-13 win over No. 24 Texas A&M.
The win kept Georgia’s College Football Playoff hopes alive and added momentum as the Bulldogs head toward the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta after next Saturday’s game at Georgia Tech.
Blankenship’s longest field goal of the day against Texas A&M came from 49 yards out into the wind amid pouring rain.
“It was close to the range going in that direction with the rain, at least, that’s what I had told Coach Smart in pregame,” Blankenship said. “It was close to the edge there.
“Coach Smart had faith in me and had trust in me to be able to come through for us, and sure enough, it went through and it kept us going.”
Blankenship has kept Georgia going with one field goal after another this season. He’s 23 of 26, and on Saturday he even placed a perfect onside kick against the Aggies that went in and out of the arms of UGA’s Tyson Campbell.
Smart couldn’t say enough about his lovable, bespectacled kicker after the game.
“He’s incredible, what a great kid, what a great story,” Smart said. “He’s given so much to our university.”
Tailback Brian Herrien, another of the 23 seniors to be honored and one of Saturday’s heroes with his third down conversion run in the final minutes, was fast to grant the one request Blankenship had on Saturday.
“Brian Herrien is usually one of the ones who breaks the banner first, he’s pretty consistently one of the guys in the front,” Blankenship said, referring to UGA’s tradition of storming out of the tunnel through smoke and breaking a large Georgia banner.
“I said, ‘Brian I got to ask you a question, man, I know you’re usually the one to break the banner first, but could I do it for our last game?’ He said ‘Absolutely, Rod, I’ll clear the way for you.”
Blankenship asked Herrien’s advice for the proper technique and took it.
“He said, ‘You got to hit it full speed, you got to hit it as fast as you can, because it’s a real big banner,’” Blankenship said. Right when you get up to it, spread your wings like an eagle and fly, and you’ll pop right through.”
Georgia banner break
Blankenship said there’s still work to be done, as the Bulldogs play at Georgia Tech on Saturday before meeting LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 7.
But as for home finales, Blankenship said he couldn’t have asked for a better day in Sanford Stadium.
“It’s been amazing, it’s too much to put into words right now,” Blankenship said. “I almost teared up a little bit when I was getting my name announced.”
It’s a safe bet many Georgia fans did, too.