Antonio Blackmon has just about seen it all during his stay in West Lafayette.
From 2-10 seasons, to bowl trophies. He's done it all, too. From starting cornerback to just a regular fan in the stands.
"I went to all the games," Blackmon said. "I was right up close getting to know the personalities of the coaches and things like that from the sideline, and just seeing how the game was played."
Blackmon sat and watched in the fall of 2014 after transferring from Saint Francis. He signed with the Cougars following an outstanding senior season at Dwenger, but his time at USF was short-lived.
"I went through a couple summer workouts, conditioning," Blackmon said. "I came to a decision with my family that I had bigger dreams and aspirations for myself. I felt like I could play division one ball somewhere, so I ended up here."
After working out on his own for several months, Blackmon made the team as a walk-on in the spring of 2015. It didn't take long for him to find his niche as a special teams superstar.
"Not that Antonio was perfect, but he showed a willingness to try to make the big play, make the big hit," Purdue cornerbacks coach Derrick Jackson said. "And I think as you watch our special teams from a year ago, you just saw him make highlight film after highlight film type of tackle."
"I wasn't doing anything spectacular out there," Blackmon said. "I was just doing my job, and coaches were putting me in position to where I could make the plays, and that was what was happening."
And those big plays on special teams earned Blackmon an opportunity to get on the field in other ways. Now as a fifth year senior, he's starting at cornerback in the Big Ten. And through three games, no one at his position has more tackles than the guy who's career at Purdue started in the student section.
"He never complained maybe when he thought his role could be more on the team, or maybe should be more on the team," Jackson said. "He just kept doing the things we asked him to do, and then we put him in a position to compete for the starting cornerback position, you saw the light come on like.. hey, this is what I've been working my tail off for is this opportunity."
"It's satisfying, but your job is never secure, so I've just got to keep making sure that I'm getting better for my team, making plays for my team, doing my job, and being where I'm supposed to be when I'm supposed to be there. Hopefully I'll just keep getting better as a player."
Blackmon bet on himself four years ago, and it's paying off in a big way now. He thought he could play division one ball. He was right, and he's proving it every week.
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