No matter how dangerous the mission, how hard the play is or how far he needs to go, Cass Tech wide receiver Blake Blackwell is going to get it done, and he won't quit until he reaches his goal.
"My coach would send me on some routes that people don't think I can do," Blackwell told Badger Nation. "Somehow, I pull the ball out of the air. Almost every time I catch the ball, I get a first down automatically. I don't get cocky about it. I just try to do it again, and do it better, the next time."
Although he entered his sophomore season at Detroit Cass Tech as a role player, Blackwell, despite all the offensive playmakers around him, burst onto the recruiting scene with 15 catches, 127 yards, three touchdowns on offense and one on defense – not bad numbers considering Blackwell (6-foot-1, 198 pounds) started playing football as an offensive lineman.
"When I first started football, I started playing lineman because people told me that I was too slow to be a receiver," Blackwell recalled. "I got into playing receiver when I started watching my idols, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice running down the field and knowing that I wanted to do that. That's why play with a chip on my shoulder and work on my hands, my route running and my toughness so I can play receiver in college and prove other people wrong."
Perfecting the route running was Blackwell's main goal throughout a well-conditioned offseason. After having what he called an ‘average' performance at Scout.com Cincinnati Combine in early May, Blackwell drove down to Detroit a week later four pounds heavier and fresh off having worked repeatedly on his burst from the line of scrimmage.
The result was Blackwell shaving .12 seconds off his forty time and displaying outstanding hands and football along the sidelines during individual one-on-one drills.
"My teammates are always drilling me ‘Get faster, Blake, get faster,'" said Blackwell, who can also bench 300 pounds. "I have really dropped my 40 time because they drill me in everything I do. I don't know how many times in practice I run routes but I do them. I don't do them sluggish or do them because I could do them. I do them to get better and after awhile, it makes a different. If I run right, I can catch the ball every time."
Although schools can't officially offer kids entering their junior year until September 1, Blackwell has been getting steady mail and talking to coaches from Arkansas, Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, UCLA and Wisconsin. Blackwell doesn't have any favorites, as his main focus is his junior season, which will bring new challenges to his game.
Already a big, physical kid, Blackwell will be suiting up as a linebacker this season as well, as the Cass Tech coaching staff is hoping to utilize Blackwell's speed and strength to deal out the hits and his hands to hopefully generate some turnovers.
Even so, there's no secret to what Blackwell loves to do.
"As a receiver, I am going to bring the hammer every time I catch the ball," Blackwell said. "As a linebacker, I am going to bring the wood every time you come towards me."