Over the last three years, North Carolina and Florida have attracted the lion's share of the Pack's recruiting attention. However, earlier this summer NC State hit recruiting pay-dirt when they landed a verbal commitment from all-american QB Marcus Stone from Harrisburg, Pa. His pledge was a clear indicator that the Pack has made a concerted effort to expand their recruiting efforts north, into a state that is generally considered one of the nation's most plentiful when it comes to yielding division one talent. With a pledge from Pennsylvania's top QB prospect under their belt, the Pack coaches have now turned all eyes toward landing the Keystone State's top RB prospect.
William Blackman of Williamsport, Pa. is considered by many to be not only the top running back in Pennsylvania, but quite possibly the very best RB prospect in the northeast region. For the past two years he has dazzled onlookers with an assortment of slashing moves and highlight-reel touchdown runs. At 6-0 and 196 pounds, he has the size that college scouts love and the break-away speed that makes him a threat to score nearly every time he touches the ball.
Blackman first made a name for himself as a sophomore- finishing up the 2000 season with an impressive 1,727 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. Last season, he was nearly unstoppable as he amassed 2,547 yards rushing and 32 scores while playing in Pennsylvania's largest high school classification (4A). For his efforts as a junior he was named all-conference and all-state first team.
Those on-the-field heroics have sparked a recruiting frenzy in north central Pa. Mail comes daily from schools like Virginia, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Iowa and Boston College. Those schools plus Michigan State, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Indiana and NC State have offered scholarships. College recruiters and analysts alike seem to concur that Blackman has emerged as one of the nation's elite running back prospects.
Prep Football Report editor Tom Lemming, who rated Blackman a five-star recruit, gushed about the rising senior's limitless abilities. "(Blackman) is one of the nation's premier ball players," Lemming wrote. "On film I was amazed at this young man's burst, vision, balance and cutting ability. He is one of the most electrifying players in the country? and may just be the most explosive back in the nation. Darrell's size is big-time, his speed is unquestioned, he follows his blockers well and shows terrific cutting ability, and with his balance and strength, we are talking about a special player here."
Blackman attributed his talent to just being blessed with natural ability. He told The Wolfpacker, "If a defender comes up too quick- I really don't think about it but I'm able to make the cut right or left or just run straight," said Blackman. "Sometimes I can just see a guy coming out of the corner of my eye but for me it's mostly instinct."
Several major recruiting outlets seem to be in agreement as SuperPrep has listed Blackman the No. 8 RB in the nation and No. 4 player in Pa. Rivals.com rates him as the No. 7 RB in the country while Student Sports and recruiting analyst Max Emfinger consider him to be one of the nation's top 100 players regardless of position.
The lofty ratings and endless recruiting interviews could prove to be a detriment to many high school players unaccustomed to the media spotlight. Blackman, however, says he's using the attention to his benefit.
"I try to use it all as motivation," said Blackman. "I don't look at it that I'm better than everyone else. I just use it to help it make me a better player. Plus, you never know when someone's going to come along that's better than you are."
On the recruiting front, Blackman has a plethora of schools from which to choose and there's a good possibility that he and teammate DE Raymond Brooks could end up donning the same uniform once again in 2003. Both are hearing from many of the same schools, including NC State, and a package deal is a real possibility.
"We have talked a lot about going together," said Blackman. "I think we might end up going to the same school."
As for the schools under serious consideration, Blackman said that NC State, Maryland, Pittsburgh and Boston College topped his favorite's list currently.
When naming a leader, the all-state running back didn't hesitate. " Mainly, my favorite right now is NC State," said Blackman.
He went on to explain why the Pack has moved to the forefront. "I talked to the coaches and they came to visit when they could," said Blackman. "They just seem like a good choice. When they came to visit they told me an offer would be on the table. When I come to visit on Dec 6th I think they'll make it an official offer. I like the fact they're doing a lot of work on the new facilities. They're making the weight room really big. Plus, the fans are really into the games and they like football down there."
Another factor in the Pack's favor is their recent commitment from QB Marcus Stone. Blackman stated it was nice knowing a player of Stone's caliber would be in the program for four years and added, "State landing Marcus is important," said Blackman. "I hadn't talked to him yet but when I talked to the (State) coaches, he had already told them that he wanted to surround himself with more Pennsylvania players that are good."
Although the Pack may ride atop the recruiting heap currently, another team thick in the chase is Maryland and Blackman made it clear the Terps are a definite contender for his services. "I like their program and their coaches help their players out," said Blackman. "A lot of their players when we were there was saying Coach Friedgen was like a father figure to them. He looked out for them and made sure they stayed on top of their classes and just made sure they did the right thing."
As for what will ultimately help him decide which school is best for him, Blackman said, "Playing time is important and how the coaches deal with their players on and off the field. Also, how the players on the team deal with their teammates- are they helpful or do they sit back and wait for you to make a mistake before they help you out."
Blackman stated that he plans to take all of his official visits prior to making a final decision.
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