HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall defensive end Arnold Blackmon will face a University of Texas at San Antonio team Saturday that he could have joined earlier in his football life.
The junior graduated from Bellaire High School in Texas, then spent two years at Navarro College in Corsicana, Tex. And during his time in the Lone Star State, the Roadrunners had an eye on him.
"They recruited me heavily out of high school," Blackmon said. "I got a few calls here and there in junior college. Not too much, but they did come and see me a few times in junior college."
UTSA could see plenty of Blackmon this weekend beginning at 2 p.m., as his role has started to grow in the Thundering Herd defense. With Jeremiah Taylor out for Saturday's homecoming game and possibly longer, Blackmon has moved into a more prominent spot in the defensive end rotation.
That growth came in a shorter time than Blackmon wanted. His plan was to graduate from Navarro early and get to Huntington in time for spring practice. He wasn't able to make it to Marshall for the spring, and admitted he missed some valuable opportunities to learn new defensive coordinator Chuck Heater's scheme.
"It most definitely set me back," he said. "I couldn't do too much through the spring. It was a minor setback. Those were days I could have learned techniques and things they wanted me to pick up here, rather than sit at home and not get anything done."
He wasted little time once he arrived at Marshall, and the 6-foot-1, 242-pounder became comfortable in his new surroundings. It started paying off on the playing field. Taylor's back injury knocked him out in the first half of the Ohio game, which moved Blackmon and fellow newcomer Gary Thompson higher up the depth chart.
So far, Blackmon has recorded four tackles, including 1.5 for a loss, with a 16-yard sack. His fellow linemen, including senior James Rouse, appreciate his willingness to stick his nose into the action.
"He's producing," Rouse said of Blackmon. "He's coming along well. He still has a lot of stuff to learn, but he's coming along. He really likes to get into blocks. He doesn't seem to veer away from contact. He tries to be aggressive."