Finally: Akey announces Blackman as starting quarterback
The veil of secrecy has been lifted on the Idaho quarterback controversy and junior Dominique Blackman has emerged as the starter for the Vandals’ season-opener.
Coach Robb Akey stated during spring camp that he hoped to see separation between Blackman and junior Taylor Davis in the opening weeks of fall practice. Following Idaho’s second fall scrimmage, Akey finalized his decision to name his starter, and informed Blackman on Monday.
Blackman announced on Twitter late Monday morning he had been named the starter.
“@vandalsQB3: Called my mom to tell her I was named the starter she broke down crying its been long road nowhere near over #2012ForKenMcRoyal #GoVandals,” Blackman tweeted.
Though Davis holds more Division 1 experience than Blackman, having started three games last season while appearing in seven, Blackman had the statistical edge in Idaho’s first two fall scrimmages.
The Carson, Calif., native sat out last season due to NCAA transfer regulations and has yet to take a snap at the Division 1 level. Blackman began his collegiate career at Washington, where he ultimately transferred after coach Steve Sarkisian requested he play tight end. After racking up more than 3,500 passing yards and 35 touchdowns at Los Angeles Harbor College, Blackman redshirted at Old Dominion before transferring to Idaho in 2011.
“Everyone knows it’s been a long road for me,” Blackman said. “I feel like I can just take that chip off my shoulder and now just start to focus on leading the team, being that guy to help us lead the team.”
Blackman strengthened his case during the Vandals’ second scrimmage on Saturday, completing 9 of 14 passes while throwing two touchdown passes and 167 yards. Davis was 3 for 6 with 80 yards and one touchdown.
The separation that Akey recognized came within the first week of fall camp.
“As we went through those first five practices we had that first scrimmage, they were able to play some things out… I’m looking for separation, being able to master what we’re doing, knowing what it is they’re getting from the defense and making plays and some leadership,” Akey said. “Dominique’s been displaying that, he’s worked hard at it.”
Much of Blackman’s motivation this fall has derived from the death of his cousin and former Vandal slot receiver Ken McRoyal. Blackman was responsible for the recruitment of McRoyal, who had received a full scholarship in the days leading up to his death.
“He’s motivated me even before the tragedy happened, he was the guy who helped me stay after practice and catch extra balls, watching extra film. I pushed the coaches to bring him here,” Blackman said.
Blackman and Davis had been sharing time with the first string offense leading up to Monday’s practice, but Akey was adamant his starter would lead the ones for the remainder of fall camp.
“He won’t be sharing that time, essentially that’s it. It’s our offense and that’s what all of our guys will be able to execute when they’re in,” Akey said.
Akey and offensive coordinator Jason Gesser will now look for separation between Davis and senior Logan Bushnell. Gesser will evaluate the two, similar to how he evaluated Blackman and Davis.
“Logan had pretty good camp and we’re going to see how that’s going to roll, we’ve been splitting reps with them for the last two practices, I’m grading things out between those two now,” Gesser said.
Bushnell, who appeared in four games last season, was just 6-17 in Saturday’s scrimmage, throwing for two interceptions.
With regards to his starting quarterback, Gesser appreciates Blackman’s eagerness and willingness to learn.
“I think that because he’s so open, he has such an open personality, so we kind of just bounce stuff off each other’s brains. He’s playing a couple of offenses and he’s a smart kid,” Gesser said.
Blackman will have an opportunity to showcase his abilities for the first time in Idaho’s home opener against Eastern Washington on Aug. 30.
Theo Lawson can be reached at email@example.com