LeGarrette Blount entered the 2009 college football season as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate and a top weapon on the eventual Pac-10 champion Oregon Ducks. The football world was in the palm of his hand.
Instead, his season hit the wall with one swing of his fist, as he leveled loudmouthed Boise State defensive lineman Byron Hout in the aftermath of the Ducks' season opening loss, earning him a suspension for the vast majority of the season and the label of a hothead and dirty player. Sure, he came back at the end of the year, but the damage was already done to his reputation and NFL stock, as the once highly-touted Blount went undrafted.
Let's put the politically-correct "you shouldn't hit someone" banter/Blount-is-a-bad-guy chatter on the back burner for a minute. He punched a player. Mkay. Other players have done the same or worse. Steve Smith punched his teammate last season in practice during a heated confrontation in practice. Broke his nose, I believe. Bill Romanowski also injured a teammate with a punch to the face when he was with Oakland. While getting stomped by Dallas in '06 and getting whipped by Andre Gurode, Albert Haynesworth used Gurode's face as a doormat, which was, as far as I'm concerned, about as bad as you can assault someone on a football field. My point is that Blount, while he might be a young hothead, isn't treading into new territory of distasteful behavior.
The upside of rolling the dice on Blount is significant. The talent and tools are there for Blount to succeed At 6-2, 240 pounds, Blount has the size and makeup of a physical and bruising running back. In addition to being a bruiser, he possesses good speed and can break away in the open field. He averaged right at 7 yards per carry in his truncated college career at Oregon. He also has a reason to be hungry and motivated, as he has a lot to prove after falling from national relevance so quickly and watching all 32 teams pass on him 7+ times. The best way for blount to make people take notice of him again is to play like a man possessed. Whether or not the Bucs get that kind of performance and drive out of him is obviously yet to be seen, but bringing on board a me-against-the-world kind of player is a plus in my book.
How well Blount can pick up the blocking schemes and catch passes (which he did VERY little of at Oregon) remains to be seen....and those aspects can't be written off....but he does give the Bucs a guy who fits the mold of what they needed, but didn't get, from Derrick Ward - a physical player who can compliment Caddy, convert short yardage and goalline situations, and help wear down defenses late in games. Hopefully he realizes, much like Mike Williams has apparently realized, that he's working for a paycheck now and trains and plays like his hair is on fire accordingly.
What do you think, Bucs Nation? Do you like the pick up?