Rod Blankenship is a month away from the NFL Draft, when he’ll get to know his future as a draftee or free-agent signee. “Hot Rod” was the most popular player on UGA’s football team this past season, based on the crowd’s reaction in pre-game introductions. He also was one of the most talented specialists to ever play for the Bulldogs, earning All-SEC honors and winning the Lou Groza Award for the nation’s best placekicker in 2019.
Blankenship did a Q&A with DawgNation’s Michael Carvell about his status:
Q. Everyone is sort of sidelined for the NFL Draft? What are you doing specifically to prepare for it?
A. Blankenship: “I’m just trying to do whatever I can to take care my body right now. I think that that’s all anyone can really do. I’ve got some resistance bands (and) stuff that I can use to just work out by myself at home. You know, do whatever I can to stay in shape and take care of my body. It’s been tough to try and find some some space to get on the field.
“I think that that’s going to be the main thing for a lot of specialists, especially at the moment — trying to find space to get on the field. Other positions, they may be able to go do some work in their backyard. I know a lot of guys in the NFL have their own gyms at their homes and stuff like that, so they’ve got a little bit more access.
“But we (kickers) need a lot of field space, and so that’s been kind of difficult. So I think I’m gonna try and sneak out to to some local fields around here in the next few days. Just see what’s open and see if no ones chases me away, see what I can do. But that’s really it for the moment — I’m just trying to stay as healthy as I can be, and stay sharp. Hopefully I will be able to get to some fields in the next few days and get some work in.”
Q. What about the draft process? I assume that everybody’s doing interviews with you over the phone right now?
A. Blankenship: “Yeah, there have been a couple of interviews over the phone. It’s a definitely a little bit of a bummer that we weren’t able to have our Pro Day (at Georgia) because there were some coaches at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine that expressed interest in coming to our pro day, and setting up some private workouts. There was supposed to be some private workouts happening and those aren’t going to happen now. So I think that a lot of stuff is gonna get done over the phone the next few days — maybe some FaceTimes and conference calls. I assume it’s going to be happening over the next few weeks.”
Q. The NFL has four years of you kicking at Georgia on film. What else do you think they need to see? Are you considering taping some workouts to send them?
A. Blankenship: “Yeah, I’ve talked to my agent about filming some stuff. I definitely would want to, at the bare minimum, film some longer field goals. At the combine, we only went back to 55 yards. So I would like to get on film a a few kicks from a little bit further past that. You know, get out to 60 and 60 plus and just see what kind of range I can get. I would definitely want to get that on film and make sure everybody can see that because we didn’t really get a chance to show off our range at the combine.”
Q. Have any teams asked you to specifically do that? Shot video of workouts and longer kicks?
A. Blankenship: “No. Not yet. I’m hoping that I’ll be taking the initiative and be the one to get rolling on that and push it out to everybody.”
Q. How are you handling the caronavirus? Everybody copes a different way. What about you? Does the upcoming draft help you keep your mind off it?
A. Blankenship: “I’m trying to stay positive. I try to take a little bit of silver lining away from every situation. I’ve been very fortunate, knock on wood, that no one in family or none of my friends have been affected up to this point. I’m hoping that everybody can stay that way, and everyone that is close to me can stay healthy.
“I hope that all of DawgNation can stay healthy. I hope that everyone can be as healthy as possible to get through the situation. I know that there’s a lot of people that have been affected already, and I feel for (them). So I’m just trying to stay as positive as I can be and just you know do whatever I can to take my mind off of it.
“I’m focused on getting better. I’m focused on keeping my body right, doing whatever I can to stay sharp. I’m spending time with my girlfriend, Logan. We’re kind of stuck here together (in Athens). We’re getting to catch up on all of our shows and movies, and spending time with our dog. We’re spending time talking him for walks, and it’s a lot quieter now when we go for walks. I’m taking things day-by-day, and trying to be ready for whatever opportunities present themselves when things calm down.”