It was a scary moment for Cameron Nizialek, who had just taken a shot to his left knee after letting loose on his first punt of Georgia’s 42-13 win over Kentucky.
Nizialek fell to the turf after Kentucky defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. collided with his knee well after the punt boomed to the opposite end of the field. Nizialek immediately grabbed his knee, with the injury initially appearing to be serious.
As fate would hold, Georgia dodged a major bullet. After spending a few minutes down, Nizialek was able to get up and walk off the field. Lucky with injuries all season long, the Bulldogs were once again fortunate as Nizialek’s knee injury was only a minor one.
“I think it was more shock. You never want to get hit like that,” Nizialek said. “You’re in a vulnerable spot, when you’re in the air and especially when you come down. I thought it was a lot worse than it was. Fortunately I was able to continue in the game.”
When Nizialek got to the sideline, he walked around for a bit and attempted some punts into the net. All ended up well for the graduate transfer from Columbia, who was able to continue playing. And after the penalty on the punt, Georgia was able to march down the field and get an 8-yard touchdown from running back Nick Chubb.
In the moment, naturally, head coach Kirby Smart was a bit worried about Nizialek, who has proven to be a dangerous weapon for Georgia this season.
“I was very concerned,” Smart said. “It looked pretty bad. I’m glad he came out all right.”
Nizialek wasn’t the only specialist to suffer an injury scare. Place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship also appeared to suffer an in-game injury following an extra point. Ultimately, Blankenship, like Nizialek, was able to shake it off and resume his kicking duties.
Nizialek staying healthy is a good thing, considering he is a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the nation’s best punter. His day against the Wildcats ended with two punts for an average of 48 yards, which included a long of 51. More importantly, Nizialek’s net punting average of the day was also 48 since neither attempt was returned.
Nizialek’s net punting average for the season is 42.7 yards.
Nizialek, who is pursuing a master’s degree in kinesiology, found out he was a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award shortly after giving a presentation this week during his sport policy class. After speaking to his class, Nizialek checked his phone and found out about his nomination via a text message.
He will find out Tuesday if he is one of three finalists.
“Really, what’s more important is winning this game and having the senior class go undefeated at home,” Nizialek said.