It’s probably not the way James Blackman envisioned starting his collegiate career, but nonetheless there he was, under center against No. 1 Alabama.
Blackman, a true freshman for Florida State, entered his first-ever collegiate game under bad circumstances after sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois exited midway through the final quarter with what looks to be a serious knee injury.
Francois was helped to the sideline and carted off by FSU medical staff with an undisclosed knee injury, but it certainly didn’t look good.
Regardless, Blackman saw his first action in a Seminoles jersey after impressing many collegiate scouts in high school. Now more than ever, it seems Blackman will have a chance to live up to his promise of stepping up in a time of need.
“I promise I won’t let you down,” he told Noles247 during an April interview.
Here’s what you need to know about Blackman:
1. Blackman Committed to FSU in August 2016 Over West Virginia & Louisville
Blackman took several visits to some schools and ultimately landed at Florida State. He made the decision on Twitter after he reportedly “raised eyebrows” at the Jimbo Fisher Football Camp in 2016.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Blackman became the 12th member of the Seminoles’ 2017 recruiting class, and tweeted a note to announced his intentions.
First off I want to Thank God and Say That I am very blessed to be in the predicament I Am in and Just want to say thanks to the coaches that have recruited me over this past year And Have Gave me an opportunity to play at Their College. But I Have Finally Made A Decision. My family And I have Talked It Over And Have Decided that I will Be Taking My Talents To FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
Blackman chose to go to FSU over Louisville and West Virginia and had 14 other FBS scholarship offers.
2. He Was Ranked to No. 34 Quarterback in the Country & Impressed Jimbo Fisher Early On
According to 247sports.com, Blackman was ranked as the No. 34 pro-style quarterback in the 2017 class. He’s listed as a three-star, “dual threat quarterback” on his biography and received a scholarship offer just one week after making his official visit to the school. The FSU coaches fell in love with him and offered him a scholarship just one week later, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said.
“We loved him on film. We just wanted to meet him,” Fisher said. “As soon as we met him, I thought that was definitely something I wanted to do, for sure.”
Blackman was a fan of Fisher and the coaching staff at FSU, too. He told 247sports.com that he first realized FSU was the ideal place for him after going to Fisher’s camp.
“After I left there and got home, I spoke to coach Jimbo again and he told me he wanted me to be a part of the team,” he said during the interview. “I knew he was a great guy and the person I wanted to be around for the next four years of my life.”
3. Blackman Passed for Over 2,000 Yards as an Upperclassman in High School
When he was a junior at Glades Central in Belle Glade, Florida, Blackman threw for over 2,000 yards and had 24 touchdowns.
Glades Central has produced an astonishing number of professional athletes over the years, including Santonio Holmes, Fred Taylor, Travis Benjamin, Damien Berry and more.
According to TomahawkNation.com, coming out of high school, Blackman was seen as having a “high ceiling, low floor” at the quarterback position.
“Blackman whips the ball and can throw with great velocity,” a scouting report said. “He uses a tight, repeatable motion to get the ball out of his hand quickly. Blackman shows good touch and accuracy on the deep ball, but can make all the throws on the field. He does this on the run, as most of his film shows him avoiding defensive linemen.”
The scouting report listed Blackman as being a good “compliment” to backup quarterback Bailey Hockman.
“Blackman has the potential to be a difference making prospect,” the report said.
As a senior, Blackman was instrumental in leading his team to Florida’s Class 4A regional semifinals. He closed the season with 2,158 yards passing and 14 touchdowns and was named to the Palm Beach Post‘s All-Area Small Schools first team and was also an All-State selection.
4. Blackman Stuck Out During Training Camp as Having Good Potential
Coming into his first season playing collegiate football, there was no telling where Blackman would land on the depth chart. However, a solid training camp made Fisher say he was “without a doubt” making a strong case to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Francois.
“Very intelligent guy, a lot of poise, a lot of presence, a lot of command, can throw the football,” Fisher said, according to 247sports.com. “Can move around, too.”
Blackman took a big amount of the reps at a preseason scrimmage and made the most of them. Fisher said he enjoys Blackman’s “poise in the pocket” the most and praised his arm strength.
5. Blackman Acts as a Role Model for His Younger Brother
Before moving to Tallahassee, Blackman spent as much time as he could with his family. He told 247sports.com in a profile that the thing he’d miss the most about heading off to college was spending time with his family and “especially (his) little brother.” He said his little brother also plays football and knew he’d be sitting at home watching him play eventually.
“Just being around him, making sure I keep him doing the right thing and leading him the right way, he’s 11,” Blackman said to the blog. “He’s going to be a big FSU fan. He’s playing safety and receiver on his team.”
The other thing Blackman said he’d miss was his some of his mothers’ meals, including his favorite, “ox-tail, beans and rice, cabbage and macaroni.”
“My mom makes it, it’s the best,” he said in the 247sports.com interview.
Blackman also credited his mother as being the motivation for his football aspirations.
“My mom wakes up every morning to go to work about 5 am,” he said. “I watch her get ready every morning and I remind myself that I just have to go hard for her. I want to make a better life for her because of all the things she’s done to make me into the man I am today.”