Auburn got maybe their most obscure (or, more optimistically, “sleepertastic”) commitment of the early 2011 recruiting cycle Saturday when defensive end Angelo Blackson gave his pledge to Chizik and Co.
Blackson’s got plenty of reasons for flying under the radar, though. For starters, he’s from that noted recruiting hotbed of Bear, Delaware. Secondly, Blackson allegedly hasn’t made much of the standard recruiting rounds, either at camps or on film. Thirdly, uh, add “Bear, Delaware” to “hasn’t had a chance to be seen anywhere other than Bear, Delaware,” and what would you expect?
Which is why it’s beyond encouraging that Blackson has already acquired the kind of offer sheet he has. Tennessee, N.C. State, Maryland, Missouri, and Pitt have all come across with offers, as has, you know, Auburn. That Chizik and Co. felt comfortable accepting a commitment from Blackson this (relatively) early in the cycle, after getting their first first-hand look as recently as A-Day, should tell you how high they are on Blackson’s potential.
For his part, Blackson was equally impressed with Auburn on that A-Day trip. From the free Rivals article on his commitment:
“Coach Chizik seems like a very good coach”, Blackson said, “He was very excited to see me and he’s willing stick his neck out for me. A kid from Delaware, and he was willing to take a risk, we will take the risk together” …
“I liked how everything was a big family down there”, Blackson said. “The tour guides, they weren’t shy. They were more happy to see me than I was to see them. It was great…it is home away from home.”
Attention anonymous tour guides: well done. Blackson was also impressed with Thigpen and Rocker, because who isn’t?
We don’t really need any more endorsement for Blackson’s potential than the endorsement from Auburn’s coaches’ (and the other major programs’ coaches who were all willing to “take the risk” on a Delaware prospect), but if you want ’em, there’s several more reasons to get giddy over his commitment:
— Blackson sounds like kind of a ridiculous athlete. Scout says he’s a “Division I prospect” in hoops as well as football, and even if that’s an exaggeration, Blackson did average better than 20 points a game on the hardwood as a junior. Red Lion Christian Academy head coach Dewayne Thomas, what say you?
“He’s a gem. I’ve coached a lot of good players. I coached Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a lot of good players, and he’s a unique specimen. We do 7 on 7’s and he plays safety.
“Angelo can be a first round draft pick, that’s the kind of talent he has. If he’s in the right situation he can blossom, the best is yet to come.”
Well that sounds … wait, what was that about 7 on 7’s?
We do 7 on 7’s and he plays safety.
Safety? And he’s how big?
The 6’5, 289-pound prospect had never been to Auburn and knew virtually nothing about the program before his visit to Auburn for their annual A-Day spring game.
He’s a defensive tackle who averages 20 points a game for his hoops team, moonlights at safety in practice, and checks in at 6-5, 290. A defensive tackle. Yes please.
— Which helps explain his stats: 56 tackles, 7 sacks, 11 tackles-for-loss, as a junior DT. Sure, it’s Delaware high school competition, but that’s still not shabby at all, sir.
— I’ve mentioned he’s a defensive tackle, right? The position where Auburn landed one qualified freshman recruit in 2009–whose redshirt the coaches subsequently burned on kickoff duty–and two, maybe three, recruits last spring? And two of the four current members of the two deep are seniors, and one a junior? And where, maybe more than any other defensive position, the Malzahnian tempo puts maximum stress on the team’s depth? That position. That’s what Blackson plays. Auburn recruiting-wise, defensive tackle is the new offensive line.
— Dude, his name is “Angelo Blackson” and he hails from a city named Bear. Maybe he’s a high school football player … and maybe he’s one of those badass black P.I.s from ’70s cinema. Someone alert whoever came up with the track for the LaDarious Phillips video and let him know we need our own “Theme from Shaft” ASAP.
So, in short: maybe you hadn’t heard of Angelo Blackson before yesterday. But you very likely will hear plenty of him in the future.
Sidenote: What’s with Auburn suddenly making a recruiting impact on the Eastern seaboard? Blackson’s from Delaware, Jamar Lewter and Kevin McReynolds are both Washington D.C. products, and Kris Frost (will make ya, jump jump) is from North Carolina. You can’t accuse Auburn’s coaches of not going where the players are–they stayed focused on Texas when under the gun in ’09, they pulled from all over the Southeast in 2010, and this year they’re expanding up the coast. Next year: Oregon!