‘Rodrigo’s earned that:’ Walk-on kicker Blankenship awarded a scholarship

Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald Rodrigo Blankenship made two of three field goals Saturday and kicked the extra point that secured Georgia’s win over Notre Dame.

ATHENS, Ga. — Awarding a walk-on a scholarship has become a very public spectacle in college football these days.

 

The August surprise usually comes with teammates celebrating when the player finds out and a feel-good video snippet makes the rounds of social media.

Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship got word that his long wait was over Thursday night relatively quietly.

That’s when the redshirt sophomore who came to play for the Bulldogs after being told he would be in line for a scholarship after his first Georgia season got a text message.

Special teams analyst Scott Fountain told him Kirby Smart wanted to see him.

It was Blankenship and the Bulldogs head coach alone in the team meeting room. He was now a former walk-on.

“It’s a dream come true since the day I committed here the December of my senior year,” said the Sprayberry High product. “It’s been a dream to play for the University of Georgia on scholarship. Now it’s coming to fruition.”

Oh, but there is still a video.

It was posted by Georgia early Sunday morning after No. 15 Georgia’s 20-19 win over No. 24 Notre Dame on Saturday night. Blankenship’s right foot provided the winning point with a 30-yard field goal with 3:13 to go.

The video was Smart turning to Blankenship in the postgame locker room in Notre Dame Stadium and asking him if he wanted to tell the team what Smart had told him.

“I’m on scholarship!” he said.

The team celebrated with the place-kicker.

All of this came after Blankenship’s father went public during the last year about his displeasure that Rodrigo wasn’t on scholarship after being named freshman all-SEC last year, going 14 of 18 on field goals.

Now he is after a scholarship opened up after defensive end Chauncey Manac opted to transfer in late August.

“Rodrigo won the job,” Smart said after Blankenship also won the kickoff job in a competition with Wofford graduate transfer David Marvin. “He did a great job. …We told him he was getting a scholarship so he could go relax and go play. Rodrigo’s earned that. He’s a great kid.

Blankenship said his go-ahead field goal was even more fulfilling given the storied history of Notre Dame.

“To be able to put the game-winning points up on the board for my team is one of the greatest honors I could have,” he said.

Blankenship, who is a folk hero of sorts for the bespectled look he has with his sports goggles, was 2 of 3 on the night, making a 27 yarder but missing from 44. He is now 3 of 4 this season on field goals.

“Whether I make a kick or miss a kick, I have to do my best to try and treat it the exact same way,” said Blankenship, who said he thought the kick would have been good from 54 but he was a little off line. “That’s how you get consistent with it whether it’s a 52-yarder or an extra point.”

 

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