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Herd's Blackmon feeding the rush

MU football
Aug. 21, 2013 @ 07:18 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Arnold Blackmon is a Marshall University football player who doesn't take anything for granted.

Not family, not football and not playing time.

That's why each time he steps on the field, he goes as hard as he can.

For Blackmon, the next step was never guaranteed before and he knew how hard he had to work to get it after spending time at Navarro (Tex.) Junior College.

"I had to deal with some grade issues, but once I got through it, I realized juco was really a good experience," Blackmon said. "It helped me a lot and it helped me to appreciate things better here."

Since taking the field, Blackmon has been one of many newcomers on the defensive side of the football who are making immediate impacts for new Marshall defensive coordinator Chuck Heater.

Blackmon said that he and his teammates are getting acclimated to the game, but the rigors of practice will have them ready for the Aug. 31 opening game against Miami (Ohio).

"They tell us to have toughness every day and get yourself in game shape -- running to the ball, strain and go as hard as you can -- so that when game-time comes, it will be easy," Blackmon said. "I don't think we're in a bad position at all, but we can always be better."

With returning defensive ends Jeremiah Taylor and Alex Bazzie back in the mix, the 6-foot-1, 242-pound Blackmon and fellow newcomer Gary Thompson have been providing much-needed depth to the defensive front.

Given the amount of plays the defense faces in a game, Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said the presence of Blackmon and Thompson has been pivotal to the success of the defense.

"When you are playing the kind of offenses that we are playing and running the number of plays that people are running, you can't play with two guys the entire game," Holliday said. "We'll roll guys in and out, and Blackmon has to be ready to play."

Blackmon is excited to get on the field for an NCAA Division I school and make an impact.

Even though camp is in its third week and it's been an adjustment, he is thankful for the opportunity to showcase his ability when others don't ever realize their opportunity.

He doesn't plan on wasting any chances that he gets to make an impact.

"To work so hard all summer and especially through camp and offseason, only for such a short amount of games, it's tough," Blackmon said. "Going into it, you also think it's a short season with just 12 games, but if you work hard, there's possibly more.

"At the beginning of the year, you have goals. If you have high expectations, you'll land among the stars. We always want to land among the stars."

Blackmon said Holliday and his demeanor with the players is the main reason that the native of Bellaire, Tex., came 18 hours away from home to school.

"I'll tell you like this," Blackmon said. "Coach Holliday is one of those guys who is going to make you feel loved. Throughout the recruitment process, he just made me feel extremely comfortable. I had Big 12 offers, but there was something about Marshall and something about coach Holliday that I knew I was in good hands."

With Blackmon's presence providing depth at defensive end, the Thundering Herd defense looks as though its pass rush will be in good hands for the foreseeable future.

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