Rodrigo Blankenship was a big part of Georgiamade it to the national championship game in 2017. He joined the program as a substitute and left as the Lou Groza Award winner for the country’s top kicker and as the second-all-time top scorer in the SEC.
Blankenship is now in his second season with the NFL Indianapolis Colts.
The Athens Banner-Herald spoke to Blankenship on Monday afternoon, a week before Georgia played Alabama for the national title at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
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ABH: The Bulldogs are coming to town over there and thousands of Georgian fans are heading to Indianapolis. What can you tell them about the city that has been your home from home since last year?
Bleaching: “I love it here at Indy. Obviously, it will be a bit colder than what many fans are used to seeing games in the Southeastern United States over the past few months (the temperature range on Friday is 13 at 21 degrees and Monday from 16 to 26, by Météo.com). Definitely pack warm clothes if you plan to be here for more than the game. … Get together definitely. I love the city. I grew up just outside of Atlanta. It’s definitely not the same vibe as in Atlanta. It’s definitely a little cooler, I guess I would say. Not as much of the hustle and bustle that I really enjoy in the city. Obviously, downtown Indianapolis is beautiful and fans will really enjoy Lucas Oil Stadium. It is a very nice place to play. “
ABH: You mentioned the weather. How do you deal with the cold as a guy who grew up in Georgia?
Bleaching: “Going to the University of Georgia, one of the many perks was a lot of really cool Nike swag they gave you over the years. I amassed about five years of gear that I diapered. It really helps me survive the cold months.
No snow forecast, but low temperatures for the national championship match
ABH: One more thing about Indy. What are your favorite places to eat in Indianapolis?
Bleaching: There are a few places I really like to go here in Carmel (where he lives) which is on the north side of town. Grinding wheel is a really cool place. Bub’s Burgers is another place. Los Agaves is a great Mexican place. Some very good pizzerias are Pies & Pints and Pizzology These are all on the north side of town for anyone who stays that way.
ABH: How much have you had the chance to watch Georgia this season and what were your thoughts on what was obviously a very special regular season?
Bleaching: “I had the opportunity to watch several games this year. I think I watched at least six or seven games from start to finish during the season. It was really nice to see them play, just to be a fan. Obviously I have a lot of good times to watch during the season. I know the SEC Championship didn’t go the way they wanted it to. All of the work they put in over the regular season, I think, was more than enough to secure their place in the playoffs and they took care of the business against Michigan. It was really great to see them play at a very high level. They will be as prepared as possible to win the national championship. “
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ABH: How has your life changed since you ended your career in Georgia? How did the transition to the NFL go?
Bleaching: “I think the biggest transition from the University of Georgia to now is the fact that I have some time for myself outside of football. As a student-athlete you go to school in the morning at 8 a.m. at 1 or 2 a.m. then you have meetings and practice. That brings you to about 6 a.m., then you have dinner and study, then you come home and do your homework, then you go to bed. And do it again the next day for five years. Now that there is no school anymore, it’s good to have some life outside of football that I can devote to doing things that I love going to watch movies or hanging out with. fiance (Logan Harrell) or build Legos. Anyway, it’s really nice to have a little more time for me outside of football.
ABH: Congratulations on your engagement. Has she moved to Indianapolis?
Bleaching: “When I was at training camp last year in my rookie season she stayed in Athens and once I got the job we started looking for a place to live that wasn’t which they rented for us. Probably two months after the season she moved in and we’ve been living here ever since. “
ABH: How are you doing? I know you had a hip injury. Where are you at with your recovery with that?
Bleaching: “I injured myself in the warm-up for the Baltimore Ravens game which I think was around week 5 of the season. The rehab process is going really well. Our head coach, the coach (Frank ) Reich announced several weeks ago when I sort of came back to full health, he addressed the media because they had asked about my progress. It was maybe five weeks after the injury . Around week 9 or 10. It is now week 16 or 17. I have been perfectly healthy for at least the last 6 weeks or so. That’s how it is at this point. I’m just waiting for an opportunity to play again. “
ABH: You were 32 out of 37 last season in the field goal and you are 11 out of 14 this season? How do you rate your start in the NFL so far?
Bleaching: “I feel like I’ve been lucky enough to come here to Indianapolis and be a part of this franchise and this organization with the Colts. Last year has been an incredible experience for me personally to finally be able to play in the National Football League after working to reach this stadium for a very long time. There are definitely a couple of kicks that I would have liked to have recovered from last year, because I’m sure any kicker would say of everything they’ve had this season. There was just a couple that stood out to me that I certainly would have liked to do for one reason or another. I feel like I had a good rookie season, but not quite what I expected. … .This season before my injury, I think I was 9 out of 10 on field goals before the Baltimore game. It was a bit better start than last season, but at the moment I’m definitely not happy with my career at this point. I would really like to get back on the pitch and show everyone that I can play at this level for a long time.
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ABH: What memories do you have of the 2017 season, especially the playoffs when you had a great Rose Bowl and a tough National Championship game?
Bleaching: “My favorite season at the University of Georgia was definitely the 2017 season. Going to California was my first time going across the country. Just all that Rose Bowl experience the week we were there, all the events, practices, camaraderie and camaraderie that we had built over that season and the game itself was obviously one of the games. most exciting college football games of all time. To be able to win this match and go to the national championship. This entire season is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. I wish we could have ended things a little differently, but that’s why they have another opportunity with this season to write the script. “
ABH: What do you think of Hot Pod as a call Jack Podlesny. Are you in contact with him and have you given him any indications for kicking in this stadium?
Bleaching: “Pod is awesome. Pod is an extraordinary child. I think he’s just a really good boy. I had a few years with Pod, a few overlapping years while I was there. I saw him every day in training. I just worked with him. I was the kicker, but I was trying my best to be a bit of a mentor to him and some of the younger specialists we had. Someone had to come after me. Pod grinded and worked his butt every day he was at the University of Georgia and those efforts paid off. … I have been in regular contact with him over the past two years, just check with him. I’m just giving him advice, whether it’s the mental side, the technical side, the physical side, whatever the case. “
ABH: As a former extra, watching Jack, Stetson Bennett, and Dan Jackson doing what they’ve been doing, is there a fraternity of types of guys that have gone from being extra to being major contributor?
Bleaching: “There is definitely a social media account for that. There is an Instagram account for football (ugafootballwalkons), maybe a Twitter account too. I think walk-ons take great pride in being walkers. -ons and having to win whatever comes our way in our football career. It was really cool to see Pod, to see Dan and to see Stetson doing the things that they do and playing at a very high level and earn big contributions to the program.
ABH: Will you be at the game and will we see a side photo of you and Quavo again?
Bleaching: “I’m going to do everything in my power to make it to the game and if Quavo is there we can definitely recreate this photo.”