ATHENS, Ga. — Cameron Nizialek will be Georgia’s punter to start the season. That’s not a surprise. But who his backup is might be: It’s not Marshall Long. Or Brice Ramsey.
Kevin Butler, the Bulldogs’ legendary former kicker and now a student assistant coach, was speaking on the Bulldog Roundtable (AM 680) on Thursday night, and reiterated what coach Kirby Smart has said previously:
Nizialek, the graduate transfer from Columbia, will be the primary punter, after a strong spring and preseason.
“I think everybody is going to be overjoyed this year to see us punt and actually see the ball go up in the air and go downfield,” Butler said on the radio show. “That’s our key and that’s what we’re excited about.”
Long was Georgia’s punter for the first nine games of last season, then broke his kneecap and missed the rest of the season. While Long returned to punt this summer, he isn’t back to his old form, according to both Smart and Butler.
“Marshall Long is kind of battling back from a tough knee injury last year,” Butler said. “So Bill Rubright, our freshman preferred walk-on out of Marist High School ([Atlanta], has stepped up to kind of assume that second-team punter right now.”
Ramsey filled in for Long the final four games last year, and also punted at the tail end of the 2015 season. But apparently he’s not an option to punt, at least at the moment.
As for the place-kicking competition, Butler also reiterated what Smart has said: Rodrigo Blankenship and David Marvin “are in a very heated competition” for the job. Butler said he was “really pleased with how they’re both kicking.”
“We’ve got a big day (Saturday) in kicking,” Butler said, referring to the team’s final preseason scrimmage. “Hopefully we get one of these guys to shake it out and step out in front of the other guy, that’s what we would like to do, and try to name that kicker so he can go ahead and get mentally ready going into next week.”