The Georgia football team will have to replace a kicking legend, with fan-favorite Rodrigo Blankenship graduating and heading to the NFL. With the exit of “Hot Rod,” comes an open door for incoming freshman kicker Jared Zirkel to take over kicking duties for the Dawgs.
Zirkel has electrified crowds since his freshman season at Tivy HS in Kerrville, TX. Not only has he launched field goals from 55-plus yards, his kickoffs usually end up sailing out of the endzone and have amazing hangtime. According to 247Sports Composite Rankings, Zirkel was the No. 5-rated kicker in the 2020 recruiting cycle.
When Georgia football offered him a scholarship, Zirkel took less than 24 hours to commit. He knew he wanted to be a Georgia Bulldog.
The Interview with UGA’s 2020 Kicking Commit, Jared Zirkel
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Zirkel. He was happy to answer a few questions to help Georgia football fans get to know him. Here’s what “Zirk” had to say:
Stone: How, and at what age, did you get started kicking?
Zirkel: I started kicking in 7th grade. My cousin, Jason Zirkel, had been the kicker for his team, so I thought I would try it out. After seeing I had some natural ability (probably from playing soccer) I started practicing a lot more.
Stone: So far, what is your most memorable experience kicking?
Zirkel: Obviously my most memorable experience was kicking a 59-yard field goal in a game, it was crazy and got a ton of hype. I gained a ton of followers and had a bunch of calls from coaches that night. Another one of my favorite memories is getting the call that UGA would be offering me a scholarship, and then putting that news out and seeing the response was really cool.
Stone: What is the longest field goal you’ve made in a game, and in practice?
Zirkel: Farthest in a game is 59 yards, practice is 68.
WATCH: Jared Zirkel’s 59-Yard Field Goal
Stone: What other offers did you consider, and what made you choose UGA?
Zirkel: I had a lot of interest from other schools, but most are hesitant to offer a kicker. My first two were Army and Air Force. I visited Air Force and it was cool, but not my kind of lifestyle. UT showed interest, but they never gave an offer; which is understandable because of how much eligibility Dicker has left. I was in contact with some others I think would’ve offered, but as soon as UGA offered I didn’t want to lose my chance. So, I committed within 24 hours of being offered. My mom went to UGA and my grandparents live about an hour away, so I have some connections there. The facilities and coaching staff are awesome, even though there have been a lot of changes this off-season.
Stone: Do you feel there is any added pressure in having to fill the shoes of Rodrigo Blankenship?
Zirkel: Yes, there is a lot of pressure replacing Rod, but I’m sure I’ll be alright. I know expectations will be high, and I will do my very best to live up to them.
Stone: Have you met Rodrigo? And if so, did he have any advice or words of encouragement?
Zirkel: Yes, I met with Rod and have texted him a couple times. He’s a really cool guy and provided lots of cool information. Nothing too specific, but really talked about what it’s like from a player’s and a kicker’s perspective, which was awesome. Jake Carmada has also been a huge help in the process.
Stone: Did I really see a video of you hitting the crossbar at 70 yards?
Zirkel: (Laughs) Yes, that was a 70-yarder at a lesson with my kicking coach, Brent Grablachoff.
The Jared Zirkel Era
Dawgnation, the excitement, and the hype is real. Rodrigo Blankenship will go down as one of the best kickers in UGA history, but it’s time to start a new chapter. The Jared Zirkel era is about to begin.
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