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Manalapan High grad awaits call from NFL Draft

Brett Carroll
Staff Writer

Saeed Blacknall is anxious to begin a new journey in his football career.

The NFL Draft will be held this week, April 26 through 26 in Arlington, Texas, when Blacknall, a wide receiver, is hoping that his name is called.

Blacknall reflected on his football playing days that featured a sparkling career at Manalapan High School and then a tenure playing one of the premier collegiate programs in the country–Penn State.

“Man, growing up in Monmouth County and going to [a] Monmouth [County] high school; it’s insane to think about,” Blacknall said.  “I just wanted to get a college offer and now here I am just weeks away from the NFL Draft. It’s crazy.”

Blacknall has not forgotten his roots and he still cherishes his scholastic playing days.

“I’m so proud to grow up in the area because I had a lot of great people around me that helped me out. Guys like Cody Highs and Ish Hyman. They kept me on track. They kept me grounded. They went onto to go to their colleges and we all stayed in touch. It’s just amazing to see how we’ve all grown since then.”

He finished his career at Penn State with 50 receptions for 979 yards and seven touchdowns.

As he awaits the NFL Draft, Blacknall admitted that nerves are apart of the process.

“I feel really anxious for sure,” Blacknall said. “You work so hard to get to this moment, and now you have all these people clawing at you, telling you where to go, and what to do. It’s exciting, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little anxious.”

Blacknall is excited to see where football will take him next.

“Doesn’t matter to me,” Blacknall said. “I got family and friends that want me to go here or there, because that’s their favorite team. But growing up, I never really had a favorite team. I always liked players. So, where ever I go will be great.”

In terms of the players he patterned his game afterwards, Blacknall said that his favorites have changed over the years.

“Growing up, I loved DeSean Jackson and Michael Crabtree in college,” Blacknall said about the two receivers. “Jackson was just so fast and always played his way. Crabtree, especially when he was in college, was just amazing. Now that I’m older, and I got much bigger [Blacknall is listed at 6-3  in height and weighing in at 210] I had to pattern my game after bigger receivers. Obviously, I’m not going to be able run around like the little guys anymore. But I watch a lot of guys like Julio Jones now.”

Blacknall also talked about what he will bring to a NFL team.

“I work hard,” Blacknall said. “I’m a team player. I’ll do what ever it takes. Play special teams. Be a wide receiver. Whatever a team needs me to do. I’ll do. I’m a great locker room guy as well. In terms of my play, I can stretch the field at any given moment. I can run all the middle routes and be a force in the middle of the field. And, if a team needs me to stretch the defense up top, I can do that as well.”

Blacknall also reflected on his time at Penn State, stating that the program helped prepare him for this moment.

“At Penn State, you’re surrounded by good people,” Blacknall said. “They take pride in molding good people before being good football players.They’re going to do their best to help you. You get to play in big games, and you’re competing at the highest level. You can’t fail at a place like that.”

Blacknall is now just working out and waiting for his moment when he hears his name announced in Texas.

Both ESPN and NFL Network view him as a possible a pick in the later rounds or he could go the route of free agency.

Blacknall has hired Jerard Roggio from Sportstars NYC as his agent.

“From now until the draft, I’m just working out and staying shape,” Blacknall said. “It almost doesn’t seem real. You go through the recruiting process in college, and everyone has all these schools that want you and you get to pick the one you want. It was fun. This is a whole different monster because you don’t know who is really looking at you or not. It’s really a business now. You have to act accordingly and know that it’s a business and that it’s not all fun and games anymore.”

Quenton Nelson

The Notre Dame guard is expected to not wait too long when his name is called at the NF Draft on April 26 in Texas.

Nelson is a Red Bank Catholic High School graduate who is from Holmdel.

The ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay predict that he will scooped up by the Chicago Bears with the eighth overall pick. The NFL Network has marked him a top 10 selection.


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