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Blankenship enjoyed being tutored by Butler

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When Kevin Butler returned to the University of Georgia in 2016 to complete his undergraduate degree, the decision didn't only benefit the former Bears great.

Butler, a rookie kicker on the 1985 Super Bowl XX championship team who left the Bears in 1996 as the franchise's leading scorer, spent two seasons as an undergraduate assistant on the Bulldogs football team.

During that time, Butler worked closely with Rodrigo Blankenship, who capped an illustrious career at Georgia last year by winning the Lou Groza Award as the nation's best kicker.

"Coach Butler is awesome," Blankenship said last week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. "He was a tremendous help. Obviously, he's been around the block and he's one of the best kickers to ever do it at UGA and in the NFL. It was great to have him as a resource just to get to pick his brain and kind of learn his process and learn some of the things that made him successful."

Selected by the Bears in the fourth round of the 1985 draft, Butler set an NFL rookie record that has since been broken by scoring 144 points for a championship team that is still considered one of the best in NFL history.

Butler continued to excel with the Bears for the next decade, ultimately breaking Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton's all-time team scoring record with 1,116 points. Butler made 73.2 percent of his field-goal attempts (243 of 332) and 97.5 percent of his extra-point tries (387 of 397).

Butler was even more prolific at Georgia, where he was a two-time All-American. In 2001, he became the first kicker inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In celebration of college football's 150th season last year, ESPN named Butler as the second best kicker in college football history behind only Florida State's Sebastian Janikowski.

With a coach that possessed such impressive credentials, Blankenship was happy to work with Butler. The young kicker had his best season at Georgia as a sophomore in 2017 when he converted 87 percent of his field-goal attempts (20 of 23) to help the Bulldogs reach the national championship game.

One of the most valuable lessons that Blankenship learned from Butler was "how he evaluated and processed things in the immediate aftermath of a kick."

"I feel like up until that point I didn't really have a way of going about how I responded to a kick immediately after, whether it was good or bad," Blankenship said. "He really gave me a process to go through where after the kick, you come off to the sideline, you kind of just give yourself a minute to evaluate what did you well or what you maybe didn't do so well, and then just [identify] a correction you could make going forward.

"He just gave me a little bit of a process and a checklist that I can go through after a kick just to kind of keep focused and keep trucking forward in the game."

When he worked with Butler, Blankenship said that the former Bears kicker didn't talk much about his NFL career—with one notable exception.

"Whenever the specialists wanted to complain about a game being cold, he would say: 'I played in negative-six degrees; this is nothing!'" Blankenship said. "It was always something like that, just trying to give us perspective that the weather we played in wasn't too bad at all."

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