All eyes on Blackwell

In only its second season as a member of Division I-A, South Florida football is looking to become a recognizable name among the nation’s top teams. But one Bull is well on his way to achieving the goal shared by his program.

The Bulls starting quarterback, Marquel Blackwell, is now recognized by many publications as a top quarterback and is considered a star.

He has been named to the 2002 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award watch list and has been declared the No. 15 college football player in the country by ESPN’s Mel Kiper who said, “(Blackwell is) the best QB most haven’t heard of (yet).”

No. 21 on that same list is Heisman Trophy hopeful Ken Dorsey of Miami.

In an article naming the top smaller conference players The Sporting News said,”Deadly with his arm and feet, Blackwell shredded Pittsburgh’s defense last season in a win on the road.”

After leading the Bulls to an 8-3 season and making some national noise defeating Pittsburgh, Blackwell has many more people recognizing his talents.

“He’s a player,” Pittsburgh head coach Walt Harris said. “He has that offense down. He knows what he’s doing out there. He really opened our eyes.”

Blackwell is the record holder in many USF categories including attempts, completions, passing yards, touchdown passes and yards per game.

“The fact is Marquel has some tremendous stats, and he did it at the I-A level last year, and I think all of that stuff will play its way out,” USF coach Jim Leavitt said.

He was named Player of the week by USA Today and last year and has been named to this season’s Football News preseason all-independent team.

“He throws the ball well, but he hurts you mostly when he pulls it down and runs, or they spread you out to cover all the receivers and then have a designed running play for him,” Troy State coach Larry Blakeney said.

As well as making headlines in national magazines and earning awards Blackwell’s notoriety is being spread through, the university’s official Web site for their star athlete.

The Web site lists his statistics and awards with updates on additions to preseason award lists such as Kiper’s, as well as quotes such as comments from last season’s opponents.

“It’s very hard for a lot of players to deal with a lot of the attention sometimes, but I think Marquel will be fine with it because he has been through a lot,” Leavitt said. “With the fast pace that our program has moved, Marquel has received a lot of attention, so I think he will handle it.”

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