Wednesday, when the Notre Dame freshmen had the chance to meet with the media for the second time, Robert Blanton answered questions about his propensity to be a talker on the football field. Although he answered all of the inquiries with a perfectly choreographed reply, a mischievous smile quickly followed, leading all those present to differ to the stories that have been told about the playmaking cornerback.
There was head coach Charlie Weis who referred to his freshman as a chirper.
"He has always been a talker," Weis said. "He's like one of those chirpers; one of those guys the wide receivers can't stand because he chirps the whole time. As the head coach now, and not the guy who has to call the offensive plays, I love guys like that. I used to hate guys like that when I was on the other side of the ball because they are guys that really annoy you. That's always been his game. That was his game in high school and he is as mild-mannered as they come off the field. But he's a chirper and has a lot of confidence in his ability."
And then, there was teammate Pat Kuntz.
"I turned around and saw him make the play," Kuntz said of his interception return for a touchdown against Purdue. "That was a great play by a true freshman. I just tried to throw a block after I saw him catch it. He'll talk about this one for the rest of the season; he's just that kind of guy. He's a little bit like me in that respect. As long as he keeps making plays, he can keep talking all he wants."
Classmate Michael Floyd didn't stray away from the rest of the pack, offering a glimpse of Blanton's change in personality on the field, when compared to his milder character off the field.
"He's a pretty cool guy," Floyd said of Blanton. "He's totally different from off the field and on the field. He's quiet off the field, but when it comes to football, he'll talk a lot and get in the wide receiver's heads … I like how he likes to give everybody a challenge, and gives himself a challenge."
According to Blanton, however, he's just another mild-mannered player trying to help his team win games.
"No sir, I'm pretty quiet out there," he quickly responded when asked about his reputation for getting under opponents' skin.
Having had the chance to view this Irish squad in practice, it is clear that the eccentric freshman is quite the vocal presence on the field. It is a rare occasion to witness a defensive back drill and not hear the Butler High School product getting his shots in at opposing receivers. So when asked if anything had surprised him up to this point, Blanton was speedy with a response.
"No sir," he said.
When the reporter stood bewildered and asked him if he had truthfully expected everything thrown his way so far this season, Blanton turned 180-degrees and said the opposite.
"No sir," he said again, this time with a smile.
Finally, when the reporter asked the young talent if there was anything that had surprised him that he could tell the media, the answer was painfully predictable.
"No sir," he laughed.
Shortly after, he fielded questions whether or not it was true that he carries dual personalities with him — one for football and another for daily life. Finally, Blanton started to open up and give some insight as to his demeanor.
"Yeah. Yes sir," he said with a laugh. "I've got a personality on the football field, and a personality off the football field. Off the football field, I quiet down. I tone it down. On the football field, I guess I just release all my energy and try to have a lot of fun out there."
This energetic persona reached its peak in the second quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers. With the Irish down 7-0, a big play was needed to gain some momentum and get the squad headed in the right direction. Blanton was there for his 47-yard interception return for a touchdown that helped spark the 38-21 victory. Despite the play being a career highlight, and one that brought celebration, the freshman cornerback took heed to defensive coordinator Corwin Brown's words.
"I never really thought about it that way," Blanton said. "Coach Brown tells me that I can't play like a freshman, because nobody's going to treat me like one, so I don't think about it that way."
Despite this attitude, the Matthews, N.C. native did get to enjoy some voice messages on his phone. Among the 70 or sot that he received, one, however, stood out to him the most — the one his mother sent him.
"My mom's," he said without hesitation. "She said she loves me."
Although he may seem like he views life as only fun and games, Blanton was a first lieutenant in Butler's JROTC program, receiving the JROTC Scholastic Award. For the young cornerback, this was a chance to showcase his leadership skills and serve as a role model to the community.
Blanton's mother may never be quite sure if she is in fact the only woman in her son's life, but she can rest assured of one issue — much of what her son taken with him during his freshman year of college at Notre Dame is thanks to her.
"My mom always taught me that you've got to know where you're at," he said. "You can act certain ways in certain environments. In ROTC, you've got to be respectful, disciplined. There's a certain order of conduct you have to follow. On the football field, it's my world. I do what I want."