Friday, December 13, 2019

Hot Rod - From Walk-on To Best In Nation

UGA Sports Communications

Photo By Danny Bishop
Georgia graduate place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship has been named the winner of the 2019 Lou Groza Award, given to nation’s top place-kicker, at the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards held at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta on Thursday night.

In addition, Blankenship and junior left tackle Andrew Thomas, a native of Lithonia and graduate safety J.R. Reed, a native of Frisco, Texas, were named to the Walter Camp All-America First Team during the show on Thursday. This marks the most Dawgs chosen by the sport’s oldest All-America squad in one year since David Pollack, Boss Bailey and Jon Stinchcomb garnered the honors in 2002.

Blankenship topped the other two finalists – Iowa’s Keith Duncan and Washington State’s Blake Mazza – to become the Dawgs’ first winner of the award. Blankenship joined Duncan and Mazza at a finalists banquet on December 9th in West Palm Beach, which was hosted by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

Georgia’s last finalist for the Groza Award before Blankenship was Blair Walsh in 2009. Blankenship was a semifinalist in both 2018 and 2017. He is only the third winner in Southeastern Conference history and the first since Jonathan Nichols of Ole Miss in 2003.

Honors had already begun to roll in for Blankenship this season. The 2019 CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American earned one of the National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar Athlete Awards and was a Campbell Trophy finalist earlier this week in New York City. He was also the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for football this season and was a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy and a semifinalist for Wuerffel Trophy.

Blankenship, a native of Marietta, is the SEC’s second leading scorer this year, averaging 9.2 points per game, and connecting on 25-of-31 field goal attempts and all 198 of his career PATs, including all 44 this year. He has drilled three 50-yard field goals during his team’s 11-2 mark. Blankenship is the FBS active leader by 16 with a total of 78 made field goals. He is UGA’s all-time leading scorer with 432 points, which ranks second all-time in league history.

The former walk-on’s school record 198 consecutive PATs ranks second in SEC history. Thanks in large part to his contribution, Georgia leads the nation with 289 PATs in a row dating back to 2014.

In addition to honors for the current Dawgs, one of Georgia’s greatest legends was honored in Atlanta as Herschel Walker was presented with the NFCAA Contributions to College Football Award for his accomplishments on the field, as well as his work with mental health awareness and the military. Walker was introduced by teammate and 1980 national championship team captain Frank Ros.

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