Although he was sporting a slight stubble Thursday evening, junior place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship has done away with the beard that – along with some dramatic field goals along the way – has made him such a recognizable figure.
“I figured it was a more professional look,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of people tell me that if you want to go into broadcasting, you need to clean it up a little bit, so that’s what I’m going for.”
Although his look may have changed, Blankenship remains the contemplative kicker who has come through in a big way for the Bulldogs over the past two seasons. In 2017, he connected on 20 of 23 field-goal attempts and tallied 123 points. “Hot Rod” also recorded 67 touchbacks in 94 kickoffs a year ago.
Blankenship’s story is a good one, as he arrived at Georgia as a walk-on and received a scholarship after last year’s victory at Notre Dame. He also has won legions of fans for his quirky interviews and countenance.
Now, with scholarship in hand and the starting kicker’s job his to lose, Blankenship said his approach in the preseason has not changed.
“I’m trying to treat this preseason how I’ve treated every preseason,” he said. “I’m trying to go into it with tenacity and the drive that I want to be the best that I can be. I’m just trying to go in and attack each and every day and stay hungry and just try and approach every day like I still have something to prove because I do.
“No matter what gets said, there’s tough competition at every single position across the board on this team each and every day. So I’m just trying to go out and compete my butt off as best as I can.”
The cult of Rod seems to be growing and collecting new fans, as he sheepishly admitted that NFL Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice is now following him on Twitter.
“That was pretty cool,” he said.
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