College football programs generally have one player handle punting and another take care of place-kicking.
In the case of Norcross senior Jake Camarda, who signed with Georgia in December, he would be quite all right with being called on to do both. Camarda is considered a five-star recruit in the Kohl’s Professional Camps recruiting class of 2018 based on his expertise as both a place-kicker and a punter.
He is considered the top-ranked punter and the fourth-best place-kicker in the nation. And by the end of his Georgia career, Camarda would enjoy having both responsibilities.
“I’d love to be able to do that,” Camarda said. “But really I just want to be able to do whatever I can to help the team win.”
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During his senior season, Camarda nailed a 55-yard field goal and averaged 46 yards per punt. At Georgia, he is expected to compete for the starting punter job as a true freshman now that graduate transfer Cameron Nizialek’s one-and-done season is over. As a fifth-year senior, Nizialek averaged 45 yards per punt and posted a net average of 42.
Camarda will compete with sophomore Marshall Long, Georgia’s starter in 2016 who redshirted this past season due to a knee injury, and redshirt freshman Bill Rubright for the job.
At place-kicker, Georgia is set with Rodrigo Blankenship still having two years of college eligibility remaining. Blankenship put in an impressive sophomore season, highlighted by two clutch field goals of over 50 yards in the Rose Bowl and College Football Playoff National Championship.
It isn’t out of the question, however, for Camarda to potentially be a starting place-kicker and punter in a couple of years after Blankenship graduates.
Camarda quickly named Oklahoma’s Austin Seibert as someone who plays both positions for his program, which shows there is precedence for such a thing.
Former Georgia special teams coordinator Shane Beamer, prior to his decision to take a new job with Oklahoma, said the coaching staff liked Camarda due to his versatility as a specialist.
“He’s got the ability to do both” Beamer said. “You hope that (Blankenship) continues to progress as a kicker but we like Jake because of the fact he can kick and punt. Probably with Cam walking out of here, he’d be walking into a competitive situation to be (Georgia’s) punter next year. That needs to be a priority for him. He’s also got the ability to kick as well. Like (head coach) Kirby (Smart) tells you guys, everybody’s competing on our team. We’re always trying to recruit guys that are better than the ones we already have here.”
Camarda said he was sad to learn of Beamer’s decision to leave but that he wished him the best of luck. He added that whatever Smart decides to do with the open position “will be great.”
Camarda carries confidence in his abilities and said his biggest focus is ensuring he remains reliable as both a punter and place-kicker.
“That’s probably what I need to work on, just staying consistent with everything that I need to do,” Camarda said. “It’s not really a worry of mine. I feel pretty good about the way I’ve been hitting the ball.”