Dominating linebacker Tray Blackmon has offers from just about every school in the country and looked heavily at Georgia, Florida State and others before choosing Coach Tommy Tuberville's Auburn Tigers. A 6-0, 192-pounder with great speed and instincts, Blackmon says in the end he just felt more at home with Auburn and the coaching staff on the Plains.
"I liked the coaches' commitment to me," Blackmon tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "They rode down here and I like they way they were talking. They looked me dead in the eye and it seemed like he (Gene Chizik) was very upfront with me. I felt like that was my home. That's the place for me. It's close to home and it gives my family a chance to come up there and watch the game. It also gives me a chance to get back home if they really need me."
Leading his team to a perfect 14-0 record and a chance for its third state championship in a row this Saturday against Washington County, Blackmon has lived up to his advance billing as a senior. He has 102 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, six sacks, six fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles on a defense that has given up just 80 points this season. In 14 games the Grangers have allowed just 1,458 total yards and have caused 32 turnovers.
Blackmon shown in action over the summer at a passing camp on the Auburn campus.
Visited at home by offensive line coach Hugh Nall and Chizik (Auburn's defensive coordinator) on Monday, Blackmon says that he really liked the things the coaches had to say to him about Auburn and the defense. He was particularly impressed by what Chizik had to say and how he said it.
"Coach Nall and Coach Chizik came by," Blackmon says. "Coach Chizik is very upfront with me. He tells it like it is and doesn't sugar coat anything. He's just an upfront guy. He seems like a pretty cool coach."
Helping LaGrange to the state championship last season Blackmon had 116 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries for the year. He was named the AAA state player of the year as a junior and has a good chance to repeat as a senior. Playing for one of the state's most successful football programs, Blackmon says that the experience of playing for a program like LaGrange in high school has him ready to move on to the next level and make a name for himself alongside the likes of Takeo Spikes, Marcus Washington, Karlos Dansby, Dontarrious Thomas and Reggie Torbor as recent linebackers who have gone on to the NFL from Auburn's ranks.
Another reason for choosing Auburn is the success of the defense this season under Chizik. Despite having two linebackers under 220 pounds, the Tigers have dominated opponents all season on the way to an undefeated regular season. The Tigers lead the nation in scoring defense. The use of speed on defense and playing winning football is something Blackmon says has him excited about Auburn.
"It makes me feel like I've got a chance because of their tradition," Blackmon says. "With us going for our third straight state championship and I have grown up around tradition, I wanted to go to a team with tradition."
Here is what Scott Kennedy (South Recruiting Analyst, Scout.com) says about Blackmon: "Tray's the most explosive hitter in the South. He puts every ounce of his body into every tackle and he plays the game at a different speed than anyone else. He can dominate a game from his linebacker position."
Here is what Jamie Newberg (National Recruiting Analyst, Scout.com) says about Blackmon: "Tray is one of the fastest and more ferocious linebackers I have seen in the 13 seasons I have covered recruiting. He really reminds me of two former stars from the state of Florida--Derrick Brooks and Nathaniel Webster.
"Like Webster and Brooks, Blackmon is a tad undersized to play linebacker but he makes up for it in every other area. He has unreal closing speed and is a big-time hitter. Blackmon is also sound against the run and pass and should be an every down linebacker in college. This is a super pickup for Auburn."
Blackmon's commitment joins with fellow linebacker Ryan Stamper from First Coast High in Jacksonville, Fla. to give the Tigers a huge Monday in recruiting. They join fellow commitments Aairon Savage, Alonzo Horton, Rudy Odum, Patrick Trahan, Rex Sharpe, Ali Sharrief, Oscar Gonzalez, Michael Harness, Prechae Rodriguez, Andrew McCain and Montez Billings as Auburn verbal commitments.