Blackshear expects big things Ravens like future of 323-pound guard

April 09, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Jeff Blackshear wasn't born to play offensive guard. Born two months premature, he weighed only 3 pounds. He was more horse jockey than football material.

Blackshear's mother, Julie, was 5 feet 9 and weighed 275 pounds. Robert, his father, was 6-7 and 350.

"And out came a runt," said Blackshear.

Almost 27 years and more than 300 pounds later, Blackshear -- 6-6 and 323 pounds -- is one of the biggest players on the Baltimore Ravens and in the NFL.

He wears a 5XL shirt, has a 46-inch waist and wears a size-15 shoe. Blackshear's biceps are 22 inches around.

And somebody has to feed this man.

"I don't want to see his food bill," Ravens owner Art Modell joked last week after seeing Blackshear for the first time.

The Ravens will make the trade-off, especially if Blackshear can start at right guard this season. Blackshear, a fourth-year veteran, will battle Herman Arvie for the spot vacated by Bob Dahl, who signed with the Washington Redskins.

If Blackshear wins the job, it gives the Ravens four solid starters on the offensive line, and a physical presence that Dahl couldn't provide.

"He gives us size at that position, and that's what we like: physical, tough, dominating linemen," said Ozzie Newsome, the team's director of operations. "It's like having an offensive tackle playing guard. He also gives us experience, having started in 21 games."

Blackshear believed he should have started more in his three years with the Seattle Seahawks. In 1994, he started all 16 games at left guard and did not miss a play. But in 1995, Blackshear was involved in a contract holdout at the beginning of training camp.

He missed crucial time and didn't regain his starting position until the last three games of the regular season. By then, Blackshear thought it might be time to move on.

But when Baltimore traded for him early last month in exchange for a fourth-round choice in the 1997 draft, he still was stunned.

"I was a little surprised by what went on, because I had bought a house there and was part of the community," said Blackshear, a native of Fort Pierce, Fla. "I held out and came to camp late with a new coach, and I don't think I was in Dennis Erickson's plans.

"But I'm happy now because I'm with a good team, one that has a chance to make the playoffs, and one where I have a shot for a starting job."

Blackshear's competitive nature also is one of his biggest assets. He was the Seahawks' eighth-round pick (197th overall) in the 1993 draft out of Northeast Louisiana.

Blackshear has always had quick feet, good speed and athletic ability, but he didn't play offensive line until his sophomore season at Northwest Mississippi Community College.

He had a lot of catching up to do.

"I've always been a hard-working guy, one who gives 120 percent on the field," said Blackshear. "I go out and play every game like I have something to prove, because I do.

"What I need to work on is my flexibility, and more lateral movement."

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said: "Jeff has tremendous capabilities of being both a great run blocker and pass protector. He has been in the league three years, and I think it's time for him to really blossom."

NOTES: The Ravens began interviewing some of college football's top players yesterday by bringing in Texas defensive end Tony Brackens. Oklahoma defensive end Cedric Jones, Ohio State tight end Rickey Dudley, Syracuse receiver Marvin Harrison, Kutztown outside linebacker John Mobley, Oregon cornerback Alex Molden and Michigan running back Tim Biakabutuka were expected to meet with the Ravens' coaching staff last night.

Pub Date: 4/09/96

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