The Dotted Line

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A Texas cheerleader runs onto the field with a giant Longhorns flag before an NCAA college football game between Texas and Kansas State on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Austin, Texas. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]


The Dotted Line: Texas commit Morice Blackwell provides versatility, production for Arlington Martin

Posted October 27th, 2020


ARLINGTON — The versatility possessed by Arlington Martin defender Morice Blackwell would make a Swiss Army Knife blush. 

The four-star Texas commit is considered an outside linebacker. But he also plays inside linebacker and safety for Martin. He starts on every special teams unit. He’ll even play some on offense at tight end or running back. Blackwell does it all, and he takes pride in his efforts. 

“It’s a tremendous point of pride,” Blackwell acknowledged. “I’m passionate about the game of football. I’m a hybrid player, and that’s what Texas wants from me. A guy who can play linebacker and safety, and come down and blitz off of the edge. The more you can do, the more you’re on the field.” 

Arlington Martin head coach Bob Wager marvels at Blackwell’s ability to play hard on every snap, even in practice. Wager knew Blackwell would be a future star when he first met the young man at Martin youth camps because his older brother also played for Wager. 

“He could play guard or center. I know he can play cornerback. I’m not sure there is a spot on the field that he wouldn’t excel,” Wager said. “He’s a great teammate. Not a good teammate, but a great teammate.” 

Blackwell helped his team win its fourth straight game last Friday night when Martin won a 12-9 defensive clash over South Grand Prairie. Martin’s lone blemish came in the opener against Denton Ryan, a state title contender at the Class 5A level. True to form, Blackwell caught a pass in last week’s win on top of his normal defensive duties. He left the game with a sprained ankle. 

“He plays the game so hard,” Wager said. “That is a learned skill because there is nothing easy about the way he plays and approaches the game. He is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, and that type of attitude is contagious when it comes from one of your best players.” 

Blackwell is entering his third season of being among Martin’s best players. Wager said that Martin could’ve been a captain back in his sophomore year. Blackwell earned District 4-6A defensive sophomore of the year back in 2018, recording 112 tackles, including 10 for loss, and two sacks. He also returned an interception for a touchdown and caused three safeties. 

He was even better as a junior last year, registering 128 tackles, including 12 for loss. He forced four fumbles and recovered three, returning two of his three fumble recoveries for touchdowns. Oh, and he intercepted two passes. 

Recruiters noticed. Attention followed. 

“It was mind-blowing at the beginning when these coaches I watched on television were calling me or sending me letters,” he said. “It is great to know that people see something in you, and that makes me realize I’m not done. I still have goals to accomplish.”

Blackwell was able to achieve a life-long goal on May 10 when he pledged to Texas. He’s ranked No. 46 on the 2021 Fabulous 55. He’s a national top-350 prospect who checks in as the 22nd-ranked outside linebacker prospect in the country, according to 247Sports’ composite ratings. Blackwell chose Texas over offers from programs like Alabama, Georgia and Baylor. 

“It was the culture at Texas that won me over,” Blackwell said. “Those guys have love for each other and have a lot of faith, both religiously and in each other. That family feel was important to me.”

Family was always important to Blackwell. 

“My love of the game stems from watching my older brothers play, and from my dad. He was always my coach,” Blackwell said. “Football isn’t just about football. I love it because football teaches us about life and how to be a man.”

Blackwell is one of 17 commitments for Texas in the 2021 class, which ranks 17th in the nation and second in the Big 12, trailing Oklahoma.