March 9, 2013

JUCO OT focused

Garden City Community College (Garden City, Kan.) offensive tackle Dontavius Blair is almost guaranteed a chance to play big time college football, but that wasn't always the case.

Every player that ends up at the JUCO level has a story, and while Blair's isn't entirely unique, he has still had to work through some obstacles to get the nine BCS scholarship offers he currently possesses.

"Coming out of high school, I didn't qualify," Blair said. "My coach let me know that I wasn't going to qualify and that I had to go to the junior college level coming out of high school. Then the junior colleges started coming at me, then the coaches from Garden City came out here and saw me and that is how I came here."

Blair also admits that moving away from home and enrolling at Garden City has helped him grow both as a person and a player.

"It is going great" he said of his time at Garden City. "The main thing is to just keep God first. I've learned that you have to stay focused. You have to do what it takes to get things done and just keep grinding while you are here. I've improved so much as a player here. My offensive line coach (Merci Falaise) played division one ball at N.C. State, and whatever he has learned he has worked hard to put it in my head and I take that with me. I just try to soak it in."

It may not be this way for long as offers seems to be rolling in daily, but Blair currently holds scholarship offers from Arizona State, Florida State, Georgia, Kansas State, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Tennessee.

At this time, Blair says that all of those schools are under heavy consideration.

"I'm just thanking God day by day that I'm getting an opportunity to show my talent at the next level," he said. "Every last one of these offers are great. None of them standout for me right now. I'm just thankful for all of them."

One of the JUCO standout's most recent offers came from Georgia, and Blair, who is originally from Addison, Ala. says that it was one that the entire Georgia staff agreed on before extending him the opportunity.

"Coach (Will) Friend called me and was like, 'Coach (Mark) Richt watched your highlight tape and he loved it. The whole coaching staff loved it. We want to offer you a scholarship to Georgia,'" Blair said. "When I got the news, I was just thanking God for that offer. It is a great opportunity because they are just a few hours from where I am from."

Growing up in the South has allowed Blair to become familiar with some aspects of the Georgia program, and he likes what he knows thus far.

"I know they have a successful program," he said. "I know they have a physical program and they have a great coaching staff just by hearing from them and talking with them. I know they put guys in the league and that is how I want to feed my family one day."

Unlike high school prospect, Blair can't afford to wait until the fall in order to visit schools on game day, as he will be playing the majority of his games on Saturday.

That is a big reason why the next couple of months will be big for the star JUCO.

"I'll be going on a visit to Oklahoma State on Friday," Blair said of his visit plans in the near future. "I'll be visiting Oklahoma on Saturday. Then, when I go home, I think Tennessee is going to set me up for a visit on Saturday, March 16. I have a visit on March 21 to Mississippi State, and Georgia is setting up a visit in that time too."

One of the biggest factors in recruiting a JUCO player is whether or not said player will be able to enroll in January and go through spring practice with the team prior to his junior season.

Blair is confident that he will be at the school his choice in January, but he hasn't yet to start narrowing his list of schools.

"I'll be getting out of here in December," he said. "I'm just wide open right now until I take all my visits and see these places. Then I'll decide."

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