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May 8, 2010One trip is all it took for Bear (Del.) Red Lion Christian Academy's Angelo Blackson to know where he wanted to go to college.
Three weeks after his initial visit to Auburn, the sleeper defensive lineman has committed to the Tigers.
The 6'5, 289-pound prospect had never been to Auburn and knew virtually nothing about the program before his visit to Auburn for their annual A-Day spring game.
Blackson's first trip to the Plains was all he needed to realize it was the place for him. After meeting head coach Gene Chizik on his first visit there, Blackson received an offer from Auburn this week which sealed the deal for the prospect that is seeing his recruitment skyrocket right now.
In the last three weeks, Blackson has received offers from Tennessee and Auburn, to go along with offers from Maryland, NC State, and Pittsburgh. Even USC was scheduled to make a trip out to see Blackson according to his coach.
"Coach Chizik seems like a very good coach", Blackson said, "He was very excited to see me and he's willing stick his neck out for me. A kid from Delaware, and he was willing to take a risk, we will take the risk together."
Blackson talked about his trip, and how the atmosphere was the deciding factor in making his decision.
"We checked everything out, the practices, the players. We evaluated everything and looked at the coaches. It's a great school and I really like the atmosphere, I really liked the people down there. The environment was great, friendly, it is a nice school."
"I liked how everything was a big family down there", Blackson said. "The tour guides, they weren't shy. They were more happy to see me than I was to see them. It was great...it is home away from home."
Defensive backs coach Tommy Thigpen is Blackson's lead recruiter, and "Ang", as his high school defensive coordinator Dewayne Thomas calls him, was thoroughly impressed with Thigpen.
"Oh yea, he was great. Coach Thigpen was the first coach I met. He was so excited to meet me, he told me about the school, the team, and what he liked about me and my game."
Blackson also had a chance to meet with defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, and was equally impressed by the former college football All-American.
"That was a great experience", Blackson said. "The way he talked to me and evaluated me, it was stuff I'd never heard before. He kept me grounded just like Coach Thomas. It was a new experience.
"He's a great coach. He's involved, active, and I know he's the kind of coach that will push you."
Rocker was also impressed with what he saw from Blackson on film. In addition to football, Blackson plays power forward for his school's basketball team that went 18-1 last season.
Blackson described his play on the field this way.
"I play with passion, and I'm very angry and violent when it comes to football. I love to get my head in and love just grinding."
Although Bear, Delaware is over 800 miles from Auburn, Alabama, Blackson doesn't see the distance away from home as a problem. In fact, he sees it as an opportunity to start something new and to begin to change his future.
"It's far, but going away from home wouldn't be a bad thing", said Blackson. "I live in an environment where I'd like to get away from home. It would give me a chance to experience new things and great things, and be a part of something at Auburn in that environment."
Blackson's high school defensive coordinator Dewayne Thomas thinks Auburn has something special in Blackson. Thomas coached and recruited Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at Tennessee State, and thinks Blackson has NFL potential as well.
"He's a gem", coach Thomas said about Blackson. "I've coached a lot of good players. I coached Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a lot of good players, and he's a unique specimen. We do 7 on 7's and he (Blackson) plays safety.
"Angelo can be a first round draft pick, that's the kind of talent he has", said Thomas. "If he's in the right situation he can blossom, the best is yet to come."
Thomas says Blackson is ready to move on to the next part of his life, and says Blackson felt like Auburn was the place to do it.
"Angelo comes from a very, very tough community, and he's the type of kid that decided a year and a half ago to try and change his situation. Coach Rocker said he plays angry and like he wants to change his situation.
"He felt the family environment at Auburn. He walked around the campus and spoke to students that had the same sentiment that the coaches did...they loved Auburn. The family, the emphasis on academics and growing the program all resonated with him. He was highly impressed."
Blackson says now he will focus on his schoolwork, becoming a better player, and getting ready for the SEC.
"I'm going to really focus on academics and hitting the books. I'm going to focus on getting stronger. Getting better, faster, quicker, that's what I'm working on.
"I like the SEC, that's what I'm looking forward to."
Blackson recorded 56 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks as a junior at Red Lion Christian Academy.