New Blackman era begins
Not much of Dominique Blackman’s football career has been straightforward, the last week included. Idaho’s starting quarterback wasn’t present on the field for the Vandals’ opener against Eastern Washington, a 20-3 loss.
“I let the whole Vandal nation down being out the first game #neveragain,” Blackman wrote on his Twitter.
Now, on his fourth school in four years, Blackman is finally preparing to make the first start of his Division-I FBS collegiate career at Bowling Green Saturday.
“It’s been something I’ve been spending my whole life trying to work for, having an opportunity to lead this team, to me it’s a blessing to be in this opportunity,” Blackman said when he was told he won the starting job late in the fall.
Blackman’s journey toward stepping in between the white lines at Bowling Green started in the winter of 2008 when he gave a verbal commitment to then Washington coach Tyrone Willingham. Unfortunately for Blackman at the time, Willingham was in the midst of a 0-12 season that would see him lose his job. Willingham’s successor, Steve Sarkisian, didn’t think much of Blackman’s ability to run his offense and rescinded the scholarship offer.
Sarkisian isn’t the only one who’s ever told Blackman he wasn’t good enough.
“I’m a prodigy of nothing. Nothing has ever been handed to me, I have had to work for everything I’ve gotten,” Blackman said. “I’ve been told I was too big, too slow, whatever. I just use that stuff as fuel.”
He moved on to Los Angeles Harbor Junior College, becoming one of the top junior college quarterbacks in the country before transferring to Old Dominion, where he wasn’t granted the starting job he thought he was promised. Now, after redshirting one year at Idaho due to NCAA eligibility rules, Blackman will take on the Falcons of Bowling Green.
“He’s a very eager player. He’s always wanting to learn, he’s always trying to find a different way or better way to accomplish stuff,” Jason Gesser, Idaho’s first year offensive coordinator, said.
Gesser went through adversities of his own as a collegiate player. He wasn’t highly recruited due to his size and had a number of people in his ear telling him what he wasn’t capable of. So Gesser went out and led Washington State to a Rose Bowl in 2002.
“With the situations that I’ve gone through playing wise, he’s kind of wondering how I handled certain situations, whatever it may be, he’s just an eager person to learn,” Gesser said.
The week after Bowling Green, the Vandals will visit Baton Rouge for a clash with SEC power LSU. In attendance will probably be members of former wide receiver Ken McRoyal’s family, who is originally from New Orleans.
A cousin of Blackman, McRoyal was fatally shot this summer in Southern California.
“It’s great for me because I have an opportunity to play for my family and my cousin, I get see all my aunties out there in New Orleans,” Blackman said. “(But) that’s a business trip for us, when that opportunity comes to play those guys we’re going to treat it like a business trip.”
Without Blackman last Thursday, the offense stalled for only three points, 10 first downs and 164 yards through the air. The new offensive system of Gesser more resembled the offense from last year, as Idaho was unable to set up manageable third downs and convert against Eastern Washington.
With Blackman, who can quickly and accurately deliver the ball intermediately to receivers in space so they can make plays, Idaho’s offense will have the quarterback the team envisioned.
“(It’s) just being consistent. Now it’s just building our packages. Now that’s on us as quarterbacks to make checks, coach Gesser’s offense is so complex that the freedom is in our hands,” Blackman said. “Just doing the little things, because that’s what we missed last year. We just try to focus on the little things, that’s what it’s going to take to win.”
Sean Kramer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org