Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship talks about doing his post-Kentucky game interview with his helmet on and the reaction he has gotten by what else, doing his post-practice interview with his helmet on. The redshirt freshman talks about the “helmet” and the attention he has gotten after his game-winning field in the waning seconds up in Lexington, KY that gave the Bulldogs the 27-24 victory over the Wildcats.
And you have heard of “Specs, “Goggles”, and “Wild Thing” as nicknames for Rodrigo, but what about “Hot Rod?” Plus, Blankenship addresses his scholarship situation at the University of Georgia, and how much of an impact that Kevin Butler has had on him this season and his development as a kicker.
How much grief have you gotten from wearing your helmet during your post-Kentucky game interview?
I don’t know if I would call it grief. It’s all just been in good fun. I love all the guys on this team. We’re real close. I just say it’s poking fun, not so much grief. It’s all be laughable.”
Did you forget to take it (the helmet) off before the interview?
I wasn’t thinking. I was just kind of caught up in the moment, you know.”
How much of the reaction on the social media have you gotten from it?
I’ve seen a good bit of it. Just from my own accounts because you get those little push notifications every time you get mentioned or tagged in a picture or whatever the case may be. Also some of the stuff I’ve gotten from my friends and family. They text me or direct message me and say, ‘hey check this out, man.’ I’ve seen a good bit of it.”
What’s that all been like for you, getting to see all that?
I just want to get verified really. [laughter] That’d be nice. It’s been nice. It’s just been real nice.”
What about on campus, walking around and going to class and everything?
Well, I try to keep a low profile. I wear all black just because I’m not a big fashion guy. But most of the time when I’m around campus and I’m not in class, I’m on my scooter so I’m not as recognizable as you might think.”
What about the glasses?
Well, I wear regular glasses to classes. But, there was a classmate in my journalism class today that wore rec specs. That picture made its way onto twitter as well.”
With all the attention, what has it been like preparing this week? Have you been able to block it out and do like you have in previous weeks?
Yes. When I get to Butts (-Mehre Heritage Hall) whenever it is, 1:30, 1:45, It’s go time. It’s time to work; so, the phone gets locked up in the locker and we’re just thinking about football. We’re thinking about Auburn.”
What are your thoughts on the “Hot Rod” nickname? Are you going to ask Coach Smart to put that on the back of your jersey this weekend?
Not a chance. My mom’s been pushing hotrod since freshman or sophomore year. It hasn’t caught on just with her efforts but I’m afraid now it might.”
Have you heard from any friends who have written in “hotrod” for president or anything like that?
I saw the hashtags. I saw several tweets with that hashtag.”
You said you wanted to get verified; how has your follower count gone up in the last few weeks?
Since the game, I think I’ve had 1,100 or 1,200 followers gained on Instagram and Twitter.”
It sounds like you are a having a good time, enjoying this with your success now. Did you imagine that you’d get to this point when you started off here at Georgia?
Well Georgia’s a big-time school. It’s one of the most successful programs in the country and so it’s going to have a large following and a large fan base. But I don’t know that I expected to receive the reception I did after this game. It’s nice, but at the end of the day I just need to be able to hit the reset button and focus on the next opponent.
Where are you with not being on scholarship now? Is that something that is on your mind during the season?
I just need to take each week one week at the time. I just want to focus on the aspects of my life that I can control and that’s just trying to kick was well as I can on a daily basis and kick as well as I can on Saturdays.”
We know what your dad said in the story from Chip Towers. Does he speak for you? Is that the case?
My father and I have had discussions about our financial situation. But like I said, I’m just trying to focus on the things that I can control right now.”
How fun is all of this with it going viral, especially considering that at the beginning of the year you were not the starter and were struggling with kickoffs?
When we’re not practicing and when we’re not in the football segment of the day, it’s real fun. But once two o’clock hits and we’re in practice mode and we’re in meetings mode, it’s all serious. It’s all business.”
When you started the season and when you weren’t the starting kicker, how instrumental has Kevin Butler been helping you keeping your chin up, keep practicing hard through all of this?
He’s awesome. He’s one the greatest to ever do it. Whether you’re talking about college or professional kicking, he’s one of the best to ever do it. Whether he’s trying to give me advice and instruction about my technique or something that’s physical or whether he’s trying to give me advice about something that’s mental, just keeping my head in it, I’m going to be all ears no matter what he’s got to say. If he’s talking, I’m listening.”
Have you ever slept in your helmet?