Many WVU fans probably never heard the name Marquel Blackwell prior to him being named the new running backs coach for he Mountaineers, on Feb. 14. He has no prior connections with the school or head coach Dana Holgorsen, so where did this hire come from?

Blackwell came to WVU after serving as the running backs coach at Toledo for two seasons. He replaced Tony Dews, who left the Mountaineers to become the running backs coach with the Tennessee Titans.

The Feb. 5 departure of Dews didn’t hurt WVU as much as it would have in years past. He left two days before National Signing Day, but because of the early signing period in December, most of WVU’s class had already signed.

Assistant coaches are critical to recruiting, and the Mountaineers have heavily recruited Florida for decades. Blackwell is a South Florida alumnus, having grown up in the Tampa area and become a star quarterback at Lakewood and Dixie Hollins high schools.

After a brief stint in the NFL, Blackwell returned to his home state and coached high school football at Tampa Freedom for three years, as an offensive coordinator and head coach.

He moved into the college ranks and was the quality control coach at USF, from 2009-’11. Blackwell’s first job working with running backs was at Western Kentucky, in 2012.

He returned to USF again in an administrative role before becoming the head coach at Lakewood High. A year later, he was a quality control specialist at the University of Florida and worked with current WVU quarterback Will Grier while he was with the Gators.

Finally, in 2016, Blackwell was named the running backs coach at Toledo.

Did you notice a trend here? Blackwell knows Florida. Specifically, he knows high schools in Florida. He is the perfect recruiter to lay stake in one of the best regions for high school football players.

Blackwell will also stick his nose in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., region, which is another place WVU has had success.

While at Toledo, Blackwell helped coach Kareem Hunt, who ended up being a third-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. The next year, Blackwell coached Terry Swanson to a 1,363-yard season and the Rockets to the 24th average nationally on the ground.

What Blackwell did on the recruiting trail may be more impressive. Three-star wide receiver Jalynn Williams, Toledo’s top signee for the class of 2018 and a native of St. Petersburg, was hauled in by Blackwell.

Blackwell was also responsible for bringing offensive tackle Lavel Dumont (Tampa) and offensive guard Samuel Baker to the Rockets. Dumont is the fifth-highest rated signee for Toledo, while Baker is the sixth.

What Blackwell was able to do at a Group-of-5 school bodes well for what he can do at a Power-5 school, like WVU.

While the move was out of the norm compared to previous running backs coaches — JaJuan Seider was a WVU alum, and Dews had previous stints with the Mountaineers — Blackwell is a perfect fit.

His recruiting ties to Florida will pay dividends down the line, and his coaching abilities speak for themselves with what he was able to do at Toledo.

Follow Sean Manning on Twitter @SeanManning_DP. Email: