Bulldogs kicker Rodrigo Blankenship got the opportunity to break through the Georgia banner on Senior Day Saturday against Texas A&M. (Video by Chip Towers/AJC)

Jumping through ‘G’ latest award for Rodrigo Blankenship

For the first time in his career, it was Blankenship who came ripping through the giant Georgia G banner as the Bulldogs’ ran onto the field minutes before kickoff.

That is a right usually handled this season by running backs Brian Herrien or D’Andre Swift. But Blankenship approached Herrien about doing it in the Georgia's training room last week.

Herrien was happy to oblige.

“He said, ‘Absolutely, Rod, I’ll clear the way for you,’” Blankenship recounted after Saturday’s game. “It was amazing. I was thinking about it all day. ‘I’m gonna get to break that banner and it’s gonna be amazing.’ And it was everything I dreamed of.”

To be clear, breaking G is no small task. It must be done just right. So Herrien gave Blankenship a tutorial.

“I asked him for some tips because I didn’t want to look like a goofball,” Blankenship said. “He said, ‘You’ve got to hit it full speed, as fast as you can, because it’s a real big banner. And right when you get up to it, spread your wings like an eagle and fly and you’ll pop right through it.’”

Indeed, Blankenship popped right through, with his neon green kicking tee in his right hand and bright orange cleats on his feet.

Look for the highlights to keep coming for Blankenship this year. Consider his itinerary for the next month:

• Blankenship was one of nine semifinalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is reserved for a player who excels in football, academics and community service. He was not named a finalist on Monday.
• He will  be in New York on Dec. 9th for the Burlsworth Trophy luncheon. Named for the late Arkansas offensive line great Brandon Burlsworth. Blankenship is one of three finalists for the honor as the most outstanding college football player who started his career as a walk-on, which Blankenship famously did.
• The next night, Tuesday, Dec. 10th, Blankenship will be in New York City for the National Football Foundation Awards banquet as one of 12 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, known as the Academic Heisman. The Campbell Trophy annually recognizes an individual as the best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership. Blankenship already has earned an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a finalist, and that will increase to $25,000 should he win.

Of course, there’s an SEC Championship game date versus No. 1 LSU on Dec. 7 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

On Monday, Blankenship found out he is a finalist for the most pertinent award for his particular skill set. The Lou Groza Award goes annually to nation’s best place kicker. He was inexplicably overlooked for that honor last year, when he had even better production than the eventual winner.

It’d be hard to imagine Blankenship getting passed over for that award this year. His statistics are almost impeccable.

With four field goals in the 19-13 win over Texas A&M this past Saturday, Blankenship became Georgia’s all-time leading scorer with 418 points, which is second only to Auburn’s Daniel Carson in SEC history. For the season, he is 23 of 26 on field goals, including 7 of 9 from 40 to 49 yards. He has made 190 consecutive extra points without a miss, which is eight shy of the SEC record.

Blankenship was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week for the effort on Monday, the sixth time this season he has been honored.

Blankenship sports a 3.71 GPA as a graduate student. A cum laude Georgia graduate in digital broadcast journalism and three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, he earned Georgia football's 2017 Sophomore GPA and 2019 Senior GPA awards.

It’s a dizzying list of accomplishments, who came to Georgia as a walkon from Marietta’s Sprayberry High School. Blankenship is trying to take it all in stride.

“It’s amazing to be considered for all these awards, for people to think I’m worth being considered for them” Blankenship said. “But it’s just a reflection of me trying to go out and execute and do whatever I can to help this team win day in and day out and then give back to the community.”

After jumping through that G Saturday, everything else is just gravy.

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