Though his days sporting the No. 10 jersey for USF are done, Marquell Blackwell can’t seem to escape Tampa. And he doesn’t mind.
With a 31-13 all-time record as a Bull, former quarterback Blackwell was hired as USF’s director of player development in February to ride with the Bulls once again — a ride through three eras of USF football.
“This place keeps dragging me back. I love it,” he said. “I’m alum. I played here, and it’s very meaningful.”
Blackwell’s position now, off the field, he said, can vary in duties.
“It’s a good mix of everything,” Blackwell said. “A lot of it is recruiting, also just touching base with local kids and coaches, developing relationships and making people feel at home.”
After finishing his last season at USF in 2002 with a 9-2 record, Blackwell still stayed green with a one-year stint taking snaps for the New York Jets.
Though he only saw action when he started in the last preseason game for the Jets before the 2003 season, Blackwell couldn’t stay away from the game.
After the NFL, Blackwell was a head coach for Freedom High School in Tampa from 2007-08.
After coaching high school, Blackwell became a program assistant under former coach Skip Holtz, from 2009-11, where he got to see a young B.J. Daniels grow into the quarterback fans saw leave the field for the last time this season.
He experienced success in the Leavitt era, he coached under the early excitement of the ‘Holtz new era,’ and now Blackwell hopes to translate his on-field triumphs to this third era of USF football.
Lined up under center as a Bull, Blackwell’s name has been cemented in the record books. He currently holds records for most passing touchdowns (67), completions (795), attempts (1,417) and passing yards (9,108).
“When (the players) look in that record book they’ll see him in there,” coach Willie Taggart said. “That’s something the players can feed off of.”
While the numbers serve as a great memory for Blackwell, his philosophy is much like Taggart’s in that moving forward proves to be the top priority in getting wins.
“All I can say as is that we need to get that ‘W.’” Blackwell said. “Stats are made to be broken. The most important stat is the ‘W.’”
Taggart, a former quarterback himself, said he shares that common ground with Blackwell and sees potential on the former USF standout.
“He’s one of those guys that have been here when things weren’t all plush and we had all these nice practice fields,” Taggart said. “He’s one of those guys that our football team can emulate.”
But this isn’t Taggart’s first run-in with Blackwell.
After Blackwell left USF again in 2011, he served as a graduate assistant for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers — helping out with the running backs with none other than Taggart.
Blackwell said it’s hard not to be pumped up when around Taggart.
“Everybody responds to ‘Tag,’” Blackwell said. “Coaches, players — he just has a unique thing about him.”
Though Blackwell’s new role may not be taking snaps and getting the glory he once did when playing, he said he doesn’t plan on leaving Tampa anytime soon, hoping to create the same success that he had on the field for USF — only this time from the sidelines.
“You can go to a lot of different places, but you’re not going to live in a lot of different places,” Blackwell said. “Once you come to Tampa, there’s a chance you’re
going to end up living there and that’s a big thing because you develop a lot of relationships outside of football, off the field.”