Marshall Long’s injured knee has progressed to the point where he will be a participant in spring practice.
In terms of how much Long will be able to participate, that remains to be seen.
“He’s not cleared to kick in 11-on-11 situations,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “We think by the end of spring he’ll be punting but we don’t know if he’ll be punting in a competitive environment.”
Long dislocated his kneecap during a practice last season that required surgery. Long sustained his injury before Georgia faced Auburn and missed the final four games of the 2016 season.
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Without Long, Smart said Georgia is excited to see what graduate transfer punter Cameron Nizialek can do. Nizialek, who transferred to Georgia from Columbia, averaged 44.8 yards per punt with a long of 65 a season ago.
Tuesday’s practice was the first time Smart got to see Nizialek in a competitive setting.
“We’ll also have a lot of other guys out there competing as well,” Smart said. “We plan on putting those guys in a lot of situations to kick in a lot of pressure situations, try to simulate what they would get in the fall. I am excited to see where the punters are with the guys we’ve got, to see if we can improve as far as distance and hang.”
Georgia also has Will Cowart and Michael D'Angola with the punting group.
As far as place-kicker, Rodrigo Blankenship will once again man the top spot on the roster in the spring. Blankenship made 14 of 18 field goals with a long of 49 yards in 2016.
Mitchell Wasson and Tanner Stumpe will join him at the position this spring, with Wofford graduate transfer David Marvin and walk-on Brooks Buce arriving in August.
“We’re going to have competition at that position,” Smart said. “We’re going to have competition at every single position. That includes fall camp, that includes this spring. When we go out there and kick, (Blankenship) will be the guy kicking. We’ve got several other kids that will compete with him. Obviously, we’ve got a guy who will come in the fall as well who will have a chance to kick. I think the more situations we can put those guys in punting and kicking will be good for us.”