Monday, 22 Apr 2024

After betting on himself, Zach Blackwood relishes opportunity with CU Buffs – The Denver Post

Even when he wasn’t getting opportunities to play big-time college football, Zach Blackwood believed he was capable of reaching the big-time.

Last week, he finally got that opportunity and on Tuesday, he committed to Colorado as a transfer.

“It’s exciting for me,” said Blackwood, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive lineman from Garden City (Kan.) Community College. “I always knew that I could be where I’m at now. I played at schools that were always under-looked and stuff like that.”

After recording 123 tackles and 10 tackles for loss during his time at Desert Edge (Ariz.) High School, Blackwood went to Northern Arizona as a freshman in 2021, but wasn’t there long. Blackwood spent that year at NAU dealing with some things off the field and didn’t play a game for the Lumberjacks before he left for Garden City.

“I just knew that I could go bigger, so I bet it on myself,” he said of going the junior college route.

At Garden City last season, he had 42 tackles, six tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. After a good year with the Broncbusters, Blackwood received 21 scholarship offers.

“It was just really exciting,” he said of the attention he got from recruiters. “My recruiting process started to pick up a little bit these last couple months, but I had another year I could have spent in JUCO, so I wasn’t really stressed about that because I got all those offers off of just that one season.”

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Blackwood got several good offers, including from Coastal Carolina, Liberty and Utah State, but none were from Power 5 conference schools. That changed last week when CU called.

A few months ago, Blackwood was in contact with CU, but the Buffs weren’t sure how many spots they’d have available. With head coach Deion Sanders and the staff rebuilding the roster this spring, however, spots opened up.

“This all happened pretty fast about a week ago,” said Blackwood, who has three years of eligibility remaining. “(Defensive line coach Sal Sunseri) saw my film. (Director of player development James) Chaney showed it to him and he FaceTimed me and we made it happen. I got the offer that day that coach Sal saw my film. He called me and we talked and basically said he wanted me and they got me on a visit right away.”

Blackwood visited the CU campus last week and made the decision to join the Buffs this week.

Blackwood is one of seven defensive tackles on the roster, all of them transfers. Four have committed to CU in the past few weeks. He will join a group that includes Taijh Alston (West Virginia), Leonard Payne Jr. (Fresno State), Shane Cokes (Dartmouth), Chazz Wallace (Old Dominion), Amari McNeill (Tennessee) and Bishop Thomas (Florida State).

“I’ve definitely seen all the great players that are coming to Colorado, but I think that’s just a great opportunity to show what I can do,” Blackwood said. “I can’t wait to compete and just get after it and just compete with everybody. It’s gonna make everybody better.”

Although his weight fluctuates between 285-295 pounds, Blackwood said he’s an athletic defensive tackle who can have success on the interior of the line.

“I feel like I’m gonna play inside the majority of the time, just because of my size,” he said. “They feel like I can really be good on the inside because I’m really athletic. I’m big enough to play inside and then I’m also fast and quick. They said I’ll play all over but majority inside.”

Blackwood is ready to play anywhere Sunseri wants him. He’s just excited to get an opportunity that he didn’t have before.

“I went JUCO, did my thing there and now I’m here,” he said.

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