Blackmon Set To Visit BYU

He was considered one of the fastest high school football players in the 2011 recruiting class. Having signed with Oregon out of Summit High School, Devon Blackmon has since transferred from Oregon to Riverside Community College. Now the JC speedster has BYU on his radar and is planning on taking an official visit to Provo, where he hopes to be reunited with an old childhood friend.

On January 24th, speedy 6-foot-1 inch, 180-pound wide receiver Devon Blackmon will be heading up to Provo, Utah where he'll take an official visit on the campus of BYU. While he doesn't know what to expect exactly, Blackmon hopes to be pleasantly surprised.

"I don't really know what to expect to see when I go up there," said Blackmon. "I'm just really exciting to see what BYU is all about when I get [to Provo]. That's what I'm excited about. I just want to be surprised when I get up there."

Having gone through the recruiting process before, Blackmon will take a more pragmatic approach to the recruiting process when considering where he will play his final two seasons in college.

"Being that this is my second time around the recruiting process I know what to look for," Blackmon said. "I'm looking for more just the education and academic side of the university for one. I know BYU has an outstanding education and the alumni are great. BYU is a great football program and the chance to get early playing time in that program is another reason. When they get that offense up and running that factors into it all too, so to be able to play in that offense early is something that I'm looking at."

The coach responsible for evaluating and recruiting Blackmon from Riverside CC is BYU Wide Receivers Coach Guy Holliday, who has done a great job in educating the California native about the standards of BYU.

"Coach Holliday is the one that is recruiting me from BYU," Blackmon said. "He just hit me up out of nowhere and asked me if I was interested in BYU, and at the time he started talking to me about BYU I wasn't. At the time I really wasn't interested and didn't know much about BYU. All I knew is that they had an honor code to live a higher standard. At the time I didn't know if I was capable of doing it and it wasn't really my style being that I was a transfer from Oregon."

Coach Holliday withstood Blackmon's initial rejections and stuck with him. Blackmon credits Coach Holliday's persistent approach in garnering his interest.

"After we started talking more, Coach Holliday started showing me his resume, and I showed him what I'm all about. After awhile I started to get a good feel for what BYU was all about."

As a young man who signed with the University of Oregon out of high school, Blackmon got caught up in the many distractions that a young man away from home for the first time can become influenced by. While at first he wasn't sure about BYU's honor code, he came around to it knowing that the higher moral standards required for enrollment would keep him focused on what's most important.

"No, I came around to the idea the BYU has an honor code and I'm a well-rounded guy," said Blackmon. "I only have 18 months being a JUCO transfer, so having guidelines to live by will keep me focused and doing what's right. If you would have talked to me about [the honor code] years ago we would be having a different conversation, but now that I'm a little more mature I think the honor code is a good thing to keep you in line and focused. It's good to have those moral, ethical standards to hold you accountable to a higher standard."

Blackmon knows full well the diversions that can draw your attention away from the football field and he feels that being held to a higher standard, like the honor code would require, only would help him to stay focused on what's important.

"Knowing what I know now, I think the honor code is great for a guy like me because I can stay there, be disciplined, and focused without all the distractions that go on at other places. And number two, if you come out of BYU, people will look at you like, ‘Wow! You came out of BYU and were able to abide by those higher moral standards without any problem?' With me being an African-American to come out of that is a huge compliment. I think BYU is a perfect place for me to stay focused and keep my mind right and be more than just a football player."

The short time Blackmon spent at Oregon has given him a much better understanding of the college experience.

"Coming to Oregon from high school I learned a lot, and I made some of my best friends there like Jamaal Prater, B.J Kelley, Rahim Cassell, Rashaan Vaughn, De'Anthony Thomas and we're all still good friends," said Blackmon. "As far as Oregon goes I can say it was an eye opening experience for me. It did help me see a lot of things about college that I wasn't aware of coming out of high school. It helped me understand a lot of things that go on and it did help me to see things differently and help me to become who I am today."

Blackmon ultimately decided to leave Oregon at the end of his first year on campus but feels he grew as a result of his experiences there.

"I left Oregon a more mature person. When I got to Oregon I was distracted by a lot of things and I kind of dug myself in a hole. I wasn't really focused enough to earn a spot to play on the field. That's something I can admit to. I just felt that in order for me to grow I needed to leave. I felt Oregon just wasn't right for me and that happens sometimes. Everybody's story is different and I just felt like I need to go and get out and move on."

With his newfound understanding, Blackmon views BYU as a place where those social distractions that often surround student athletes at many universities won't be found at BYU to distract him from his focus of academics and becoming the best football player he can be.

"Yeah, that's pretty much it," he said. "I learned at an early age that you need to have the guidelines and that's why BYU's honor code is a good thing."

Having grown up in Fontana, California and playing football at Summit High School, Blackmon grew close to teammate Jamaal Williams, who now starts at running back for BYU. Seeing the kind of young man Jamaal has become at BYU has made Blackmon proud of his childhood friend.

"Growing up with Jamaal, he's a great guy and I'm just proud of him," said Blackmon. "To see what he's become over there at BYU makes me proud of him. To see how mature he is and how much of a role model he's become I can't say how proud I am of him enough.'

Devon and Jamaal have known one another for a long time and ran together throughout their formative years in Fontana, California.

"I've known Jamaal since we were kids, and I don't call Jamaal by his first name; we call him ‘J-man.' We gave him that nickname when we were kids because we used to run track together. Jamaal was really young but he used to come out and run track with me, John White, and James Douglas. We used to all get him tough. I still remember him running around the track crying because he was so young and just a kid. I used to run with him and encourage him saying, ‘Come on J-man! Come on J-man! It will all pay off in the end.' Look at him now; He's out there at BYU running with the big dogs and playing against the big dogs. I'm just proud of him and he's always been like my little brother. I can't say it enough."

Blackmon's association with the Williams family didn't start and end with Jamaal. Blackmon was a track star in high school and was coached by Nicole Williams, Jamaal's mom, in that event.

"Jamaal's mom used to coach me in the hurdles. I ran in state and I ran the hurdles in 13.6, and when I ran the 40 I ran it in a 4.3," Blackmon said. "I [also] ran the 100 meters and my fastest time was a 10.5. I was one of the fastest kids in my recruiting class. It was me and George Farmer who were the fastest. He goes to USC."

The Cougar offensive coaching staff is looking to increase the speed of their offense. It was apparent during the Fight Hunger Bowl that team speed at the skill positions was lacking. Blackmon would be an instant infusion of speed to compliment the size/speed of JC transfer Nick Kurtz, who has already signed.

"BYU wants to use me to spread the field on the outside and play slot and do jet sweeps and things like that," said Blackmon. "Anything I can do to help the offense I can try and do. They want to use me in the offense to bring my skill set to do things like that to help them. They want to get me in space where I can use my speed."

Although many teams have inquired, Blackmon is currently looking at just three college options.

Fresno [State], Utah, and BYU are pretty much the only schools that I've been talking to," said Blackmon. "I had other offers early on like Cal, Washington, Colorado, and Arizona but I think they fell out because they were looking at some high school guys. I didn't really take those offers seriously. The only three that I'm looking at now are Fresno State, Utah and BYU."

Blackmon has already officially visited Utah in December 2013. He will be visiting Fresno State this weekend and then lastly BYU on January 24th. He plans on taking all of his trips and then making a decision come signing day. That is, unless he feels he should make a commitment sooner if he feels there's no need to wait.

"I'm going to wait till signing day," said Blackmon. "I'll probably just wait till signing day, but there is a possibility that I could end up making a decision soon. You just never know what could happen, but I'll probably just wait till signing day."

From the sound of it, Jamaal Williams has been in Blackmon's ear about possibly playing alongside him in Provo and Jamaal's recruiting efforts may pay off.

"I know he'll support me wherever I go, but I know where he wants me to go," said Blackmon with a laugh. "We talked about it a couple of times. He said it was a great fit for me, and I feel like BYU is too. I'll talk to him more when I go up there for my visit. I'll just follow him the whole time until I get the hang of things, but I trust his instincts. I trust him and if he feels BYU is a good place, I trust his instincts."

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