Homecoming for Blanks
As a boy, he grew up a Florida State fan. His first college football game was in 2003 when Florida State beat Georgia Tech, 14-13 at Doak Campbell Stadium.
"I grew up around Florida State…I was influenced by Florida State a lot, early on," Blanks said.
That allegiance to the Seminoles was pushed aside when Blanks developed into a blue chip prep prospect at Tallahassee's North Florida Christian School, which sits about six miles from the Florida State campus.
"I started seeing a lot of other places…it eventually just faded away," he said.
Eventually, he signed with Clemson, because Tigertown was a "perfect fit."
"The environment fits me, the people, the surrounding -- everything just fits my personality and who I am as a person, outside of football," Blanks said.
Blanks will make his ACC debut on Saturday when Clemson heads south to Florida State for a primetime showdown on ABC.
"It'll be interesting, but I'm going into with a business approach," he said. "It's not a vacation or a let's have fun time in front of my friends.
"It's a strictly business approach. That's the focus that I'm taking into it."
That business-like approach has helped Blanks earn a significant amount of early playing time as a freshman. Through three games -- two of which he started -- Blanks has recorded 14 tackles over 96 snaps.
Much of that playing time has been at the Tigers' hybrid nickel back/strong-side linebacker position.
Despite his early success, Blanks believes he has plenty to work on.
"I'm hard on myself and I know that I still have a lot of work to do. I'm nowhere near where I want to be or where I need to be," he said.
Specifically, Blanks would like to improve his "overall mental capacity."
"Just knowing the tendencies, knowing certain situations, just being more aware, things like that that come with more experience," he said.
When asked what he's done well, Blanks responded, "That's a tricky question."
He added, "I'm just a person that's so driven on what I need to fix, so I'm not really sure what I've done well. I'm sure I have done some things well, but I'm focused more on what I need to fix or what I need to do to make myself better."
Like every freshman, Blanks continues to learn the ins and outs of the college game. By all accounts, he's handled it well.
Well, by most accounts.
"The biggest transition for me in college football has been the studying, the time investment that has to be made to play at a high level," Blanks said. "The biggest thing for me, I've been maturing a lot, and still have a lot of maturing to do, mentally."
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