Norwell High School senior Curtis Blackwell’s fresh start date is June 18.
That’s the day he’s scheduled to move into Ball State University and begin the next phase of his football career. A new level of hard work and, he hopes, a return to winning games awaits his arrival.
“It’s really a different level playing Division I college football,” Blackwell said. “Your conditioning has to be very high, a lot more than in high school, and that’s what I’ve been focusing on – getting as strong and as big as I can, and getting in the best shape that I can be.”
Blackwell is a 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive lineman who will be part of the Cardinals’ incoming class. He began attracting college interest when he was a freshman and sophomore, and was a two-way player for the Norwell team his sophomore year that won a Class 3A sectional title.
Blackwell handled the losing, and the mental struggle, the best way he knew how – by remaining positive in a negative situation.
“I just tried to be a leader and lead the young guys and teach them the right way to do everything,” Blackwell said. “Coach Gerber is great at explaining that, when a big ship is turning around, it can’t turn around right on the dot, but once it does, it will be awesome to see. It takes time to turn it around, and we worked to get that started.”
Blackwell said he is looking forward to growing as a lineman at Ball State under offensive line coach Kyle DeVan. DeVan is a former NFL lineman who played for the Indianapolis Colts during their run to the Super Bowl in 2009.
DeVan, who played college football at Oregon State, coached with the New Orleans Saints before joining the Cardinals with head coach Mike Neu before last season. He had previously coached as a graduate assistant with Oregon State and USC.
“It’s just awesome,” Blackwell said. “He knows what it’s like and what it takes to get to the NFL. I would love to have a chance someday to get an opportunity to play in the NFL and if anybody can get me there, he’s definitely the guy for the job.”
Blackwell said he expects to increase his weight through strength training and could be as big as 320 pounds by the time he’s a senior in college. He plans to study construction management and possibly criminal justice.
His first goal on the field is to help build a winning program at Ball State in the Mid-American Conference.
“I’m just excited to be part of a very successful program and be part of the new legacy with coach Neu,” Blackwell said. “I get to be part of that in the early stages and, hopefully, we’ll make bowl games and win some MAC championships.”
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Ball State 2017 football recruits
Justin Gibbs, WR, Grovetown High School, Grovetown, Georgia
Poni Tu’uta, DT, John Curtis Christian, River Rouge, Louisiana
Shahid Reece, OLB, Archbishop Rummel High School, Metairie, Louisiana
Christian Albright , DE, North Cobb High School, Kennesaw, Georgia
Michael Robinson, ILB, Allatoona High School, Acworth, Georgia
Khalil Newton, WR, Stephenson High School, Stone Mountain, Georgia
Caleb Huntley, RB, Locust Grove High School, Locust Grove, Georgia
David Rueth, OLB, Archbishop Alter High School, Kettering, Ohio
Verenzo Holmes, CB, Grovetown High School, Grovetown, Georgia
Justin Hall, WR, Alexander High School, Douglasville, Georgia
Demetrius Murray, CB, South Gwinnett High School, Snellville, Georgia
Jimmy Daw, RB, Medina High School, Medina, Ohio
Bryce Cosby, CB, Dupont Manuel High School, Louisville
Malcolm Lee, S, Baker High School, Mobile, Alabama
Myles Hannah, CB, Stephenson High School, Stone Mountain, Georgia
Hassan Littles, CB, Stephenson High School, Stone Mountain, Georgia
Jordan Williams, DE, Centennial High School, Champaign, Illinois
Zach Haynes, OLB, South Warren High School, Bowling Green, Kentucky
Brett Anderson, CB, Grand Blanc Community High School, Grand Blanc, Michigan
Antonio Phillips, S, Kirkwood Senior High School, Kirkwood, Missouri
Nathan Snyder, P, Marysville High School, Marysville, Ohio
Curtis Blackwell, OG, Norwell High School, Ossian
Ethan Merriweather, WR, Carmel High School, Carmel
Dorion Pollard, OLB, Hinsdale Central High School, Hinsdale, Illinois
Markice Hurt, WR, Michigan City High School, Michigan City
Brock Burns, S, Hamilton Southeastern High School, Fishers
Jake McKenzie, DE, Heritage Christian High School, Indianapolis