How a former UGA rival is helping Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship
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Georgia football kicker Rodrigo Blankenship taking cues from Harrison Butker
In his time as Georgia’s kicker, Rodrigo Blankenship has made a number of big kicks. There’s the 55-yarder in the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma. And the 51-yard in the national championship game against Alabama.
But in Sanford Stadium, former Georgia Tech kicker Harrison Butker is one of the few kickers who can say they’ve made a more important field goal than Blankenship. For those who might have forgotten, Butker hit a 53-yard field goal as time expired to send the 2014 Georgia-Georgia Tech to overtime. The Bulldogs went on to lose that game in what ended up being one of the more frustrating defeats in the past decade of Georgia football.
Since that improbable kick, Butker has gone to become one of the best kickers in the NFL. After signing with the Chiefs in 2017, he set an NFL rookie record for most field goals made in a season.
Butker is one of the top kickers in the NFL. So over the summer, Blankenship began to break down some of the aspects of Butker’s game to incorporate into his own.
“This past summer I looked at Harrison Butker,” Blankenship said. “I’ve known Harrison for a few years now, so I thought it would be a good idea to see if there is anything I could try and apply from his technique.”
Blankenship doesn’t have a lot to improve on, as he made 19 of his 23 field goal attempts, all 65 of his extra points and converted 82 into his 96 kickoffs into touchbacks in 2018. But he’s not perfect yet — Blankenship spent much of his media session on Friday addressing the missed field goal he had against Alabama last season —and he readily admits there are ways for him to improve.
“Just trying to take ‘Do More ‘mantra’ to heart this season. For me that means not trying to go out kick a bunch of extra balls. It’s more of doing everything else,” Blankenship said.
“Maybe it’s studying an NFL guy to see what you can take away from them. Maybe that’s a little more time in the training room so your body is healthy and ready to go. It could be something like making sure you’re taking care of your grades and classes. That way you have less stress, a cooler head and are ready to go.”
Butker ended up being that NFL guy. The former Georgia Tech kicker also grew up in the Atlanta area, as he is from Decatur, Ga. while Blankenship comes from Marietta, Ga.
One aspect Blankenship wants to try and learn from Butker: how to hit a 90-yard kickoff.
“I saw a video on Instagram of him working with a kicking coach and he hit a 90-yard kickoff. I’m trying to see if I can do that,” Blankenship said. “It would be pretty cool.”
Blankenship admitted that he weighed the possibility of going pro a season ago and possibly joining Butker at the NFL level. But in the end, the senior kicker decided there were still somethings he wanted to learn and do at the University of Georgia before heading off to the NFL.
Champ Bailey thanks Georgia football in Hall of Fame speech
A Georgia legend went into the NFL Hall of Fame over the weekend, as Champ Bailey was enshrined as a part of the 2019 class.
Bailey shined at Georgia from 1996-98. He played both ways for the Bulldogs, excelling as both a defensive back and a wide receiver. In his junior season, he caught 47 passes for 744 yards while also being a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.
During his acceptance speech on Saturday, the Georgia legend went on to thank his teammates and coaches that he spent time with in Athens.
“Although the coaches at Georgia played a huge role in my success, it’s the guys that went to battle with me that inspired me the most,” Bailey said. “My whole class of 1996, we thought we were hot. Only three of us played as true freshmen so we weren’t that hot. I want to thank those guys. … I also want to thank those upperclassmen who were such selfless leaders. I learned a lot from those guys.”
After his time at Georgia, Bailey was taken in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft. He spent time with the Washington Redskins and the Denver Broncos, making 12 Pro Bowls. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.
Bailey is the fourth Georgia player to enter the NFL Hall of Fame, joining Terrell Davis, Fran Tarkenton and Charley Trippi. As for the next Bulldog who could join the NFL Hall of Fame, defensive lineman Richard Seymour was a finalist for the 2019 class but ultimately did not get the call. After a standout career with New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, Seymour shouldn’t have to wait too much long join Bailey and the others.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Georgia football’s Mr. Fix It, middle linebacker Monty Rice
- Report: Financial commitment boosts a robust Georgia football recruiting effort
- How Dell McGee has made Georgia’s claim to ‘RBU’ even stronger
- WATCH Georgia QB Jake Fromm: ‘How can I get better?’
- Injury report: Georgia football defensive line back in business
- Kirby Smart on Georgia wide receivers: ‘I hope the growth happens fast’
- D’Wan Mathis still not fully cleared as Georgia football practice begins
- WATCH Kirby Smart: Georgia football grinding for grit, identity
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