The Dominion Post  

Blackwell getting comfortable at WVU in new role

Created on:   Tue, Mar 6, 2018   8:31 PM

Last modified:   Tue, Mar 6, 2018   8:31 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Marquel Blackwell has worn many hats since getting into coaching over a decade ago.

He’s been through the high school and college ranks, bouncing from state to state and program to program. Blackwell became the offensive coordinator at Freedom High School is his home state of Florida, in 2006, and made six other stops before becoming the new running backs coach at WVU.

He had no previous connections to head coach Dana Holgorsen or other Mountaineers coaches, or to WVU, so he program is unfamiliar to Blackwell, but he said the transition has been good so far.

“We’ve got a good group of people here, with guys on the administrative side of the deal and being around the coaches and obviously the players — it’s been great,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a smoother transition.”

Although he never coached with anyone on the current staff, Blackwell kept up with some of his new colleagues throughout their careers — including Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.

Blackwell also coached against WVU while he was as his alma mater, South Florida, from 2009-’11, while both schools were in the Big East.

“I followed coach Holgorsen and Jake and the guys, and I’m also a little familiar with coach (Joe) Wickline,” Blackwell said. “It was an easy decision for me to get away and learn from these guys.”

Blackwell said the hardest part of coming to WVU was leaving Toledo, where he spent two seasons as the running backs coach. He coached the Rockets to one of the best rushing attacks in the Mid-American Conference and helped Kareem Hunt become a professional star with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Leaving something he helped build for a bigger opportunity at a Power 5 school was not easy, but he felt like it was the right move to make.

“The toughest part of coming here was the relationship I built with the guys in the room at Toledo,” Blackwell said. “That’s a big, big deal in this business, as far as making sure those guys understand that you’re all in with them.

“I’m looking forward to building that same kind of relationships with the group here.”

The core group of players under Blackwell’s watch this season is Kennedy McKoy, Martell Pettaway and Alec Sinkfield. Having three backs with difference skill sets has Blackwell excited that the cupboard was not left bare in the backfield.

“If you look around the country, you have to play with two, three backs,” he said. “It’s good to have each one of them complement each other, and we’ll see how it goes. Kennedy has a lot of reps and has played in a lot of games, as has Pettaway. Sinkfield is coming around for a young guy and has played really well.”

Blackwell doesn’t want to wipe the slate clean and ignore what his backs did last season under then- running backs coach Tony Dews, who is now with the Tennessee Titans. Blackwell needs to see some things that should be fixed or tightened up.

“We have to look at last year as a way to fine tune some things and learn what some of the guys possess out on the field,” he said. “Like I told those guys, what happened in the past doesn’t concern me. ‘All I’m concerned about is what you do right now.’ They’ve accepted me well and I’m looking forward to continuing that success.”