A leader emerges for Georgia punting job, kicker ‘neck and neck’

Georgia punter Cameron Nizialek (92) during the Bulldogs’ spring practice at Butts Mehre Heritage Hall in Athens, Ga. on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. (John Paul Van Wert/UGA)

Heading into Saturdays’ first preseason scrimmage, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart may not know just yet who his punter or kicker will be this season.

 

A leader thought has emerged at punter in week two of camp.

It’s Columbia graduate transfer Cameron Nizialek who has the edge over sophomore Marshall Long.

“Cam’s doing a good job with the punting,” Smart said. “He’s leading that charge. Marshall is still competing with him.”

Nizialek averaged 41.3 yards in three seasons for the Ivy League school and led the conference in punting in 2016 with a 44.8 average.

Long averaged 38.7 yards per punt last season in nine games but saw his season end early due to a broken kneecap that kept him out this spring.

Smart called the competition between Rodrigo Blankenship and Wofford graduate transfer David Marvin “really tight” at both field goals and kickoffs.

“Those two guys are neck and neck, competing with each other,” Smart said. “But it’s still early.”

Blankenship was 14 of 18 on field goals last season and had 20 touchbacks on 55 kicks after taking over for William Ham.

Marvin was 17 of 23 on field goals last season and had 37 touchbacks on 75 kicks.

“I’ve learned we have a lot better competition than we did last year,” Smart said of the punting and kicking races. “The competition is driving each person every day, to raise their level. It’s well thought of that high stress situations create your best. Those guys, they’re like assassins. They got one shot. It’s all they got. They’re getting those kind of hit or miss opportunities every day.”

 

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