Before football, his passion was basketball.
His first love was track.
Football came into Blackwell's life late.
"I didn't even want to play football in high school but my dad made me."
Many young, tall kids have watched Kobe Bryant, also known as the Black Mamba, spin and twist, making impossible shots. Soon after, they decide they want to become basketball players. For Blackwell, it was another Black Mamba that influenced him, in another sport.
"After hanging with De'Anthony [Thomas] a lot, watching him play football I was like ‘man I want to do that too, he makes it look fun.'"
De'Anthony Thomas, also known as the Black Mamba, was the number-one ranked athlete in the country for the Class of 2011. Thomas, an incoming runningback for the Oregon Ducks who de-committed from USC, influenced Blackwell to choose football over other team sports.
"My sophomore year I was a big playmaker. Like the first game I touched the ball I broke a 90-whatever yard kickoff return. The second time I touched the ball I took a slant to the house. It was like ‘okay, he gets it.' And like De'Anthony, I had fun."
Taking the sport seriously only after his 16th birthday, the 6'1, 190-pound wide receiver from USC-feeder Mater Dei High sure caught up quickly.
His first season with the Monarchs' varsity squad, as a sophomore, Blackwell was their most productive receiver, catching 28 passes for a total of 618 yards. He scored eight touchdowns and averaged 51 yards a game.
"I am a hands-on person and I love to learn new stuff that makes me better. I love working out, anything that makes me better."
His initial success wasn't beginners luck.
His junior year, Blackwell doubled his receptions, with 52, scoring 11 touchdowns and averaging 116 yards a game.
"I definitely thought that when people see me play they see ‘hey he's learning stuff as he goes' but he's a decent player right now."
Decent was enough to name Blackwell to the Pac-5 first team offense. Decent was enough to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
But high school isn't always representative of one's playmaking abilities in college. While USC's complex playbook could potentially make the newbie's head spin, he has one advantage over incoming receivers George Farmer and Marqise Lee: years of playing with current Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley.
"I'm going to really have to work and [Barkley] knows that but he as a person will get me better. Because helping me get better will help him. We'll get on that level. It's not there yet, but we'll get there."
While there is a possibility the Cerritos native could redshirt next season, he is confident that it wouldn't be because he isn't mentally prepared for the next level.
"In my head it's always a touchdown. If I catch the ball [I always think] it's going to be a touchdown."
Blackwell is eerily calm, unphased by tough questions and even tougher possibilities.
What if it's not a touchdown? What if you make a mistake?
"If I miss, give me the ball again. What's to get down for? There's more coming your way, you have to brush it off, get the next one."
Blackwell grew up wanting to play in the NBA, not the NFL. He didn't grow up watching college football, either.
"At the time when USC was taking over, in 2004, 2005, that's when I started getting into it. That was inspiring to me."
Maybe he didn't need the years of experience. Maybe the speedy wideout with good hands and vision can catch up to his competitors like he did on the track or on the basketball court.
Blackwell might be young in years and young to the game of football, but he's about to head into a program with a lot of experience-- in winning.
"I love everything about sports. I love competing."
Good thing he loves competition, because come Fall, he's about to face a lot of it.
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