Penn State wide receiver Saeed Blacknall, who always seems to save his best work for the biggest moments, showed up again last Saturday night, making a 35-yard reception in a critical five-play, 90-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter of the come-from-behind upset of No. 2 Ohio State.
Not surprising, considering his first career touchdown catch had come against the Buckeyes two years ago, albeit in a loss. Or that his only other career TD grab came last year at Michigan, also in a defeat.
Blacknall, a 6-foot-3, 212-pound junior, emphasized during a conference call with reporters earlier this week that this doesn’t mean he ONLY shows up for big games. Rather, he said, he always tries to stay ready, so that when an opportunity arises, he can take full advantage of it. http://www.scout.com/college/penn-state/story/1721573-penn-state-vs-purd...
The reception against the Buckeyes was the ultimate example of that. Blacknall had two catches while starting the season opener against Kent State but then sat out a month, with what is widely believed to be a finger injury. He all but confirmed that on Tuesday, saying that he was able to run routes in practice but was unable to catch the ball, and that eventually he had his fingers taped together.
He came off the bench in the victory over Maryland, then did the same against OSU. The catch, contested by Buckeyes cornerback Marshon Lattimore, took the Lions to the 2 and set up a touchdown run by Trace McSorley two plays later, cutting the Nittany Lions’ deficit to 21-14. It was Blacknall’s only reception in the game.
After they completed the comeback and the clock expired, he crouched in Beaver Stadium’s south end zone as the celebration welled up around him. There was just so much to wrap his head around — the injury, the return, the catch, the victory — that he had to stop and let it all sink in. http://www.scout.com/college/penn-state/story/1719381-psu-fans-now-get-s...
“It’s definitely a really good welcome-back kind of party for me,” he said.
He really had to wonder at it all — “how one day you’re just sitting there in a T-shirt and shorts, cheering on your team, and the next week you could be out there, making a big impact.”
His 2013 TD catch against the Buckeyes had come in that very same end zone, before another White Out crowd. He recalls soaking in that moment, too.
“I was so star-struck,” he said. “It was the first one. Looking back now, I’m thankful for that moment, so for games like this past weekend, it didn’t feel like anything. It just felt like I was doing my job.”
He had 11 catches that year, eight last year and has three this season, for 59 yards. In his absence DeAndre Thompkins has emerged as the Lions’ best deep threat, while working with the other starting wideouts, Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton.
But going forward there will certainly be snaps available for Blacknall, and more opportunities to make plays.
It’s just a matter of him being prepared, same as always.