Ronald Blair: Absolutely Explosive


The Appalachian Online

Jason Huber

Fifth-year senior defensive end Ronald Blair has solidified himself as part of a core of lockdown players on App State’s defense.

Blair is one of the top defensive ends in collegiate football. He has recorded 150 tackles, 13.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss in his career, starting all 38 games he has appeared in.

He missed all but two games during his 2013 campaign, which gave him the opportunity to redshirt and have a fifth season.

In 2014, Blair helped lead App State’s top-ranked defense in the conference. He was named a captain on the team by his teammates last season, and was named to the All-Sun Belt conference team.

With 2015 being Ronald Blair’s final season as a collegiate player, Blair was named as one of the 145 student-athletes on the official watch list for the 46th-annual Rotary Lombardi Award, which is the nation’s best lineman/linebacker award.

Along with defensive back Doug Middleton, he was put on the Senior Bowl watch list, a game in which NFL hopefuls showcase their talents for professional scouts and coaches.

While these are great accomplishments for any college player, Blair knows that he still has a full season to play and prove himself one more time.

“It’s a tremendous honor, but at the same time its preseason,” Blair said. “Once the season starts, none of this matters as you get going. I have to take it game by game and hopefully have good games all the way throughout the season.”

Blair has helped lead App State since he was a freshman, experience that should help him to lead others by example. Defensive line coach Mark Ivey feels this experience and leadership will be pivotal to the team.

“His biggest strength to our defense is his leadership ability,” Ivey said. “He’s a guy who has been here for four years and has seen a lot of things. Good things, bad things, things that have happened to him personally and to other teammates. He has had time to reflect to all the players.”

Despite being one of the top defensive players on the team, Blair still treats every teammate and coach with humility and respect. Junior defensive end Olawale Dada practices with Blair and sees how he stays true to himself.

“He’s very humble,” Dada said. “I would say he is the best player on our team, but if you just hang out with him, he would not put off that persona that he is better than you. He is a very down to earth person.”

After finishing the season off strong last year, Blair feels the defense can be even better this season and he wants help lead them to be the best.

“I want to be the best leader I can be,” Blair said. “If I put my teammates in the right position to make plays, then I feel like I am doing my job. Hopefully when we need those big plays, I can make them as well.”

Olawale is one of those players who knows Blair is the leader on the team and helps make everyone better.

“He brings a mindset on the team that helps you feel very comfortable,” Dada said. “You have somebody very good on your side and it gives you confidence.”

While wanting to finish his senior season strong, Blair still thinks of all the emotions that he has knowing it’s his last season as a collegiate players.

“We took our senior pictures a few weeks ago, and it was crazy seeing all the guys who have been here since I started,” Blair said. “It’s crazy thinking about all of the good times and the good memories over the last few years. Hopefully we can finish out on a bang and win the Sun Belt Championship.”

With his college years coming to an end, Blair’s career may not be over, with his NFL inspirations still in sight as he a chance to be drafted.

“That would mean everything,” Blair said. “That’s been my dream since I was a young baby and started watching football. I always watched NFL players like Julius Peppers, Reggie White, and tried to get to somewhere of their level. It would be a tremendous honor to even think about being drafted.”

Ivey has watched Blair through his whole collegiate career. He feels there are only a few more aspects of his game that he needs to polish this season.

“He is a guy that is a pretty complete and total package, but one thing we have talked about is increasing his stats as far as pass rush, getting to the quarterback and sacks. He has done a great job, but he’s got to be able to finish a little bit more elusive.” Ivey said.

Aside from focusing on this being his last season, Blair feels this year’s defense can be something special.

“I think we will fare pretty well. Last year we kind of spread around, but this year we are rolling,” Blair said. “We have almost everything on paper and everybody has chemistry right now. We just have a little bit of tuning up to do, and then everything will be fine.”

Ivey has only positive things to say as he feels Blair has everything that a defensive end needs and is the core of the defense.

“He is absolutely explosive and he is as strong as you are going to get for that position,” Ivey said. “He’s got size, speed and good football savvy on the field. When he is off the field he is always focusing on film study, knowledge of the defense, asking questions, and his leadership ability is fantastic.”

Story by: Jason Huber, Sports Reporter