Podlesny not getting complacent, ready for the next chapter as a Bulldog
Moments before Georgia placekicker Jack Podlesny jogged out onto the field against Cincinnatti in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, there was a nervous feeling in his gut.
However, as he trotted out to attempt the 53-yard game-winner, that feeling went away.
The St. Simons native put faith in his leg and the ball split the uprights, which secured the Bulldogs over the Bearcats.
Podlesny said after the game that he wasn’t trying to overthink the situation.
“Once we got there, I tried to slow my breathing because I didn’t want to rush anything,” he said back in January. “I didn’t want to overcompensate for anything. The snap from Payne Walker and hold from Jake (Camarda) was unbelievable. I tried to follow through with the kick and it went in.”
That game-winning field goal in Georgia’s 24-21 win over Cincinnati was a career-long for Podlesny. However, it was also the program’s second-longest game-winner since former Bulldog and current radio personality Kevin Butler hit a 60-yard field goal to beat Clemson in 1984.
Seven months after that iconic kick, as No. 5 Georgia prepares to take on No. 3 Clemson in the season opener on Sept. 4, Podlesny wants to move forward with his life.
“You know, not really, I haven’t tried to let it affect me too much,” Podlesny said about the game-winner on Thursday. “I’m not trying to buy into the stardom that much and just trying to live my daily life as I did before.”
Nonetheless, the former Glynn Academy specialist confirmed he did receive a full scholarship after nailing 81.3 percent of his field goals last year and hitting all 38 extra-point attempts.
“It means a lot,” Podlesny said. “It was always a goal of mine once I got to Georgia. I was going to work my butt off and someday get put on a scholarship to pay for school. Now I’m here.”
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound placekicker said he is entering the upcoming season with a strong mindset.
“For me, every kick is the same, no matter the distance, so once that carryover happens, I need to make sure I leave it on the field,” he added. “If I carry it over, it might affect me on the next kick, whether I kick a good one or a bad one.”
Podlesny said his biggest takeaway in the offseason was just clearing his head and trying to be in the right frame of mind before an attempt.
“There’s been a lot of things I’ve had to work on that I’ve had to take care of this off-season,” he added. “I’d go and train with a guy on the weekends, making sure I simplify my jab step or fix my drive when it’s a little bit longer here and there. But, the big thing for me is just focusing on the mental health aspect.”
Podlesny has been working with Will Muschamp, who has taken over the special teams’ coordinator role for Scott Cochran. However, he pointed out that the former Bulldog player and South Carolina head coach leaves the kickers and punters to practice mostly on their own.
“As coach (Kirby) Smart once said, he likes to leave us alone, and so does coach Muschamp,” Podlesny said. “He brings a lot of fire and energy to the table for special teams as a whole and as a team, but as specialists alone he kind of lets us do our own thing. He gives us a little energy here and there and makes sure that we’re doing the right thing.”
Georgia is expected to play in front of a home crowd of 92,746 fans this season in Sanford Stadium, which is full capacity. So, Muschamp and Smart are not the only ones who are going to be bringing the energy. Nevertheless, Podlesny, who has not played in front a full crowd yet in his collegiate career, is going to shy away from the moment.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” Podlesny said. “ … But we’re excited about it.”
Here is Podlesny’s interview: