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Austin Blaske’s Winding Road to Athens

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
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Tuesday night, he announced his decommitment from NC State, and on Wednesday afternoon he put pen to paper, making official his intentions to go to Athens and join the University of Georgia.

“It's been crazy… Three days ago, Coach Schumann called and asked about my grades and the next day Coach Smart called my dad and gave me an offer. I knew it was the opportunity of a lifetime."
~Austin Blaske

It was a hectic 48 hours for 4-star South Effingham offensive tackle Austin Blaske.

From May 11th up until the night before the early signing period opened, the 6’5”, 280 pound Georgia-native had been verbally committed to NC State. Following in the footsteps of recent Wolfpack signees Jalynn Strickland and Dylan McMahon, it appeared things were all set for Dave Doeren to ink his third southeast Georgia OL prospect in as many years.

On Monday night, however, an offer from the in-state flagship rolled in and everything changed. Tuesday night, he announced his decommitment from NC State, and on Wednesday afternoon he put pen to paper, making official his intentions to go to Athens and join the University of Georgia.

“It's been crazy… Three days ago, Coach Schumann called and asked about my grades and the next day Coach Smart called my dad and gave me an offer. I knew it was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Blaske told the Southern Pigskin Radio Network.

The attraction, especially for a player like Blaske, is obvious. Georgia, the premier in-state program, has arguably become the modern standard bearer for offensive line play, boasting numerous recent greats like Isaiah Wynn, a first round draft pick, and Andrew Thomas, who’s about to be one himself. And even after the departure of Sam Pittman, the program is clearly committed to maintaining its dominance at the line of scrimmage, replacing him with former Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke, who just put together an elite offensive line of his own, even without the sort of talent he’ll have at his new destination.

“I'm excited,” he said. “You see the players they have now and that shows how good the coaching is up there. I'm very excited.”

Yet, for Blaske, the preeminent reason he cited for his decision was more personal.

“The big thing for me,” he continued, “was that my trainer, who I worked with for a long time, died last summer and I promised him that if I ever got an offer from UGA I would take it. Not just for him, but for me and my family.”

After a season in which he and standout running back Rocko Griffin, who signed with Vanderbilt, led South Effingham through a brutal Region-2 AAAAA slate to the playoffs, Blaske was honored as a First Team All-Region selection and was named to the ESPNCoastal All-Savannah Team.

“Austin was the best overall player on our team; he made a huge impact on both sides of the ball,” his head coach Nathan Clark said. “He is a great player and when our starting defensive lineman was out, he ended up playing every snap on both sides of the ball versus Jesup (Ga.) Wayne County. It was his best game of the year against a great team.”

Blaske is a three-sport star who is a standout on the mats and as a thrower in track. Last year as a junior he finished second in the state for GHSA-AAAAA wrestling in the heavyweight division. He was a state qualifier in the discus as well as boasting a 52-foot shot put. Blaske is no slouch in the weight room either boasting a 600-pound squat and a 350-pound bench.

“This kid is a leader, loves the weight room and allowed just one sack all year,” Clark continued.

“I have fulfilled what I have been trying to do for a long time,” Blaske concluded. “Lifting, getting up early to fulfill a dream; I’m just glad to see that it all paid off. I plan on bringing my aggressiveness and love for contact to Athens. I’ve really improved my football IQ over the last year and it should serve me for years to come.”

At what is quickly becoming OLU, if it has taken that crown already, Austin Blaske is ready to do whatever it takes to be the next great in a growing lineage.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: jim@espncoastal.com Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP