Friday, August 20, 2010

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself: LeGarrette Blount Needs to Calm Down Before He Ruins His Career

Just two short years ago, during the 2008-09 College Football season, LeGarrette Blount had it all going for him. He was the star running back for the Oregon Ducks, who had aspirations of possibly being a star running back in the NFL one day.

During that 2008-09 season, he had rushed for 1,002 yards along with a school record 17 touchdowns. He did all this, including averaging 7.3 yards-per-carry, while sharing the backfield with teammate Jeremiah Johnson, who was the featured back and who also eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the year with a team high 1,201 yards.

This led many to believe, as many still believe today, that Blount had the talent to succeed even in the NFL. However, recent incidents, along with his troubled past, might just prevent him from ever succeeding not only in the NFL, but in life in general. Simply put, LeGarrette needs to calm himself down before his career is over.

Coming out of Taylor County High School in Perry, Florida, Blount wasn’t considered all that great a back. Rivals.com and Scout.com both considered him a two-star recruit despite the fact he had rushed for 1,000 yards three times as a four-year starter for Taylor County High.

He wasn’t highly recruited, and while he attempted to attend Auburn University and tried to get an athletic scholarship, he was never offered one, and wasn’t able to qualify academically.

This led him to head to East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, MS, where racked up two impressive 1,000-yard seasons as one of the nation’s best junior college athletes.

One of his career highlights was a 273-yard performance along with three touchdowns in a win over Northeast Mississippi Community College as a freshman.

He was ranked as the No. 1 junior college prospect by The Clarion-Ledger after his first season, and received Junior College All-American honors.

Within another year he was considered by most to be one of the nation’s highest ranked junior college prospects at any position, and was named the No. 1 junior college running back by Rivals.com in their Junior College Top 100 from that year.

Now proving his mettle, he was highly recruited by many schools, yet decided to try and fly high with the Ducks, where Oregon coaches said Blount reminded them of Reuben Droughns.

Even with his stellar first year with the Ducks, though, there were troubling signs. He had some quarrels with veteran head coach Mike Bellotti that earned him a suspension for the first quarter of a November loss to the California Golden Bears for “not following team rules.”

After the season had ended his troubles with Bellotti didn’t end, and the head coach suspended him indefinitely on February 10 for “failure to fulfill team obligations.”

When the Oregon Ducks got rid of Bellotti and brought in new head coach Chip Kelly, this was a boon for Blount, who was reinstated by Kelly after it had been determined he’d responded well to Bellotti’s suspension and had improved.

With the new season about to unfold, Blount and his team felt good. He was on the watch lists for the Walter Camp Award, as well as the Doak Walker Award, and there seemed nothing that could stand in his way. It seemed he was destined to eventually be an NFL running back. Using basketball jargon, you could say it was a “slam dunk” or in boxing parlance, it was a “knockout” that he was headed for stardom.

Then, of course, Blount “knocked” himself out of the running for those awards and possibly even a career, when he decked Boise State defensive end Byron Hout after a 19-8 loss to the Broncos.

It was the season-opener for the Ducks during that 2009 season, and Hout had jawed incessantly to the Ducks and Blount during the game. He continued his antagonistic provocation after the game, and when he came up to Blount running his mouth some more and touched him on the shoulder, LeGarrette blew a gasket and literally knocked him out, as you can see in the photo to the right.

This might not have drawn a great deal of notice if the game hadn’t been on national TV. As it was, the video of the incident became an instant viral classic on the Internet, leading the sports news universe for days.

The gist of it was he was suspended for the entire season by coach Kelly. Yet, many in the media expressed doubt as to whether this was justified, and voiced the opinion that Blount should have simply received a few games suspension in order to cool his jets, so to speak.

In the end, after numerous apologies from Blount, including an apology letter published in the Oregon school newspaper, the Oregon Daily Emerald, he was reinstated for the November 14 game against the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Releasing a statement prior to the game, Blount thanked his coach, saying that he, “cares enough to offer me this second chance.” He further said he hoped to “prove to people that their lasting impressions of me are not what they saw in Boise.”

He didn’t get much of a chance to prove anything in the game against Arizona State, nor in the game against the Arizona Wildcats that followed, sitting on the bench because his replacement, LaMichael James, had been playing so well already that year.

He did get in on the action during the Ducks final game of the year against their hated rivals, Oregon State. Coming in to relieve James when his team trailed by 9 points, he quickly scored on a 12-yard run to bring them within two.

He would end the game with 51 yards rushing, and was a huge help in getting a 37-33 win for the Ducks against the Beavers that earned them a berth in the 2010 Rose Bowl against Ohio State.

Even then his future was in doubt, as he went undrafted in the NFL Draft.

However, one team took a chance on him, the Tennessee Titans. They signed him to a contract, and he is currently battling for a third-string running back position along with Stafon Johnson and Dominique Lindsay on the team behind behind starter Chris Johnson and backup Javon Ringer.

Struggling so far in camp, Blount displayed to the world that his anger issues aren’t yet completely in check.

Expressing his frustration during practice, he put on another “boxing” exhibition, punching his teammate this time. Luckily the man was wearing a helmet at the time, or Blount might have knocked him out as he did Byron Hout.

However, such an action is no laughing matter.

In fact, such behavior could easily get him cut from the team, and worse, could prevent him from every drawing any interest from another team. Franchises love talented players, and will sometimes look the other way when it comes to character flaws of their superstars. However, if the talent is marginal, they’re not likely to put up with many character issues.

I have only this advice for LeGarrette Blount. CALM THE HELL DOWN!

My father always told me to think about the consequences before I made any moves or took any action. Apparently Blount’s own father never told him the same, or if he did, it still hasn’t sank in.

Punching a teammate, especially after the incident he was a part of just over a year ago, won’t endear him to Titans coaches, and will only make him look terrible. He needs to get his anger in check quick or he may see himself on the outside looking in.

If he truly wants to make something of himself, and succeed, even to a minimal degree in the NFL, and not be a total failure in his career, he needs to calm down and start thinking about his actions as they pertain to his future.

Check yourself, LeGarrette, before you wreck yourself!
http://kdrv.com/files/images/2010/08/18/blount.preview.jpg