Four Quarters with Ross Blackard
Now in his third year as a starter, senior Ross Blackard has become a fixture on Prairie View's offensive line.
“Ross has actually played every offensive line position since he's been here,” Prairie View coach Reagan Morrison said.
Blackard has come full circle since breaking into the starting lineup at center to start his sophomore season. By the time the season ended, Blackard was willing to play anywhere else.
“Two years ago, Ross said he never wanted to play center again, but look where he's at now,” Morrison said. “He's a great kid; very coachable.”
Blackard's job is often one that is taken for granted — until he makes one mistake.
“Everybody in the stadium knows when the center messes up in the shotgun,” Morrison said. “It's a very important position because you touch the ball every play.”
Playing both ways, Blackard has also played end, tackle and linebacker on the defensive side. He appears to have settled in at end after making seven tackles in last week's 34-6 season-opening victory over Riverdale.
Still, Blackard hasn't been called upon at the position he wants to play. Like every offensive lineman, Blackard longs to tote the pigskin.
“Ross wants to run the ball. I told him as far as touching the ball, center is probably as close as he is going to get,” Morrison laughed. “But he's doing a good job for us where he is now.”
BDE: When did you start playing football?
Ross Blackard: My freshman year, which was also my first year at Prairie View. Coach (Reagan) Morrison and his cousin, Brandon Morrison, were our coaches.
BDE: What is something you remember about your first season?
Blackard: I didn't know what I was supposed to do with everything being new.
BDE: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of football?
Blackard: My least favorite is practice. My favorite part is the Friday night lights, just being out there.
BDE: How important was it to start the season on a winning note?
Blackard: It was really good because everybody doubted us. We have coach (Matt) Middleton as our new offensive coordinator and we did a good job with our offense. We did what we were supposed to do.
BDE: What are the keys to the Spartans having a successful season?
Blackard: Everybody staying in shape, keeping a positive attitude, giving 100 percent every week and not getting it in their head what team we are playing.
BDE: What challenges does UA present for the Spartans?
Blackard: They're quick and real athletic. They have a lot of players so they can sub a lot.
BDE: What is the biggest improvement you have made since this time last year?
Blackard: Probably my blocking. I'm being more aggressive, and I'm in better condition.
BDE: Are you happy to be back at center?
Blackard: I didn't like playing center my sophomore year. I like it a little more this year. It doesn't seem as stressful this year.
BDE: When did you move to defensive end?
Blackard: When Hunter Green was out, I was playing linebacker. When he came back, I made the change to defensive end. I like playing defensive end because I get to make tackles and hit somebody every play.
BDE: What are the biggest hits you have delivered and received?
Blackard: My sophomore year against Central Hinds, a dude hit me in the back of head, and I really don't remember what happened.
On a punt last year against UCA, the long snapper snapped the ball and started running. I put my helmet right in his chest, and he went straight back.
BDE: Do you have a favorite hunting story?
Blackard: Me and Tristen (Shanks) went duck hunting one time. It was a slow day, and we were just sitting there playing with our phones. Then we heard something and there were about 30 pintails right on top of us. We both shot our limit in one little volley.
BDE: Outside of football, what is something you hope to accomplish during your senior year?
Blackard: I want to get my grades and ACT score up and graduate towards the top of the class.
BDE: What are your future plans?
Blackard: I plan on going to ULM and going into sports medicine.
BDE: Why sports medicine?
Blackard: It's just something I like to do, and I want to stay involved in sports.