Blatt gets second chance with the Trojans

Published 9:44 am Thursday, September 26, 2019

Two weeks ago, Tanner Blatt was delivering food for DoorDash. After not stepping on a football field in over a year, the former walk-on made his collegiate debut on Saturday for the Trojans against the Akron Zips.

The Opelika Alum walked on with the Trojans prior to the 2016 season. After spending parts of two seasons on the scout team, Blatt decided to turn his attention to other things, ending his time with the football program shortly before the 2018 season.

Following Troy’s loss to Southern Miss earlier this month, the Trojans got news that they would be without three of their five running backs in their game against the Zips. Perhaps out of desperation, Blatt got a call from a familiar voice. The voice of his former high school coach Brian Blackmon.

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“He said I have the craziest proposition of your life,” Blatt said. “I need you to come back and play running back for us. He told me all about the injuries and he said, ‘Let me know what you think about it.”

Troy head coach Chip Lindsey remembered Blatt from when the running back was playing at Opelika High School. Blackmon reminded head coach Chip Lindsey that he was still on campus and the decision was made.

“We were having discussions on Sunday about what our options might be if these guys can’t play,” Lindsey said. “He (Blackmon) brought him up. I remembered the kid. He brought him up and I said ‘He’s still in school here? He said yeah he was on the team for years.”

It took no time for Blatt to make his decision. He arrived at the stadium later that evening to get to work. Blatt was scheduled to work that evening, but ultimately decided that the football facility was where he belonged.

“The DoorDash hours are voluntary,” Blatt said. “So, you pick when you want to work. It wasn’t really a big deal. As far as actual work goes, I work on weekends back home in Opelika.”

Even after leaving the football team, Blatt was still around the program as an intern. Despite being around the program, the call came as a complete surprise for Blatt.

“I took it as this type of stuff doesn’t happen for no reason,” Blatt said. “It’s too crazy to happen and not do anything about it. Second, it’s a great opportunity to come back and help my team when they need it.”

Blatt wasn’t the only one surprised about the opportunity.

“The first person I called was my brother,” Blatt said. “He did not believe me. He didn’t believe me for about four days. He thought I was just messing with him. I told my parents that evening and they didn’t believe me. Once I showed them film from that practice, they ended up believing me. My brother was super excited.”

During the week leading up to the game, Blatt’s biggest obstacle was getting ready mentally. It had been since his senior year of high school that Blatt played in a game and he knew he had to work on the mental and physical aspects of the game.

“It’s been years since I actually played in a game,” Blatt said. “There wasn’t a night or day where I didn’t just sit down and concentrate and visualize where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do and I how I wanted to play in that game. I knew I was most likely going to see some reps.”

Not only did he get some reps, but he finished the game with 11 carries for 45 yards in the game.

“That was awesome,” Blatt said. “Probably the greatest moment of my life, so far. I hadn’t been that sore in a while. I wasn’t tired, but my body felt like I had been hit by a train.”

The transition was a smooth one according to Lindsey due to the fact that Blatt was around the program and familiar with the coaches.

“I think him having been on the team before, knowing our people and knowing our coaches, me having some carryover from the previous staff, it just made that transition easier.”

Blatt will be on the roster for Troy’s game on Saturday against Arkansas State. He hopes to play a similar role in the game, but if not, he will be there to encourage and support his teammates.

“If the opportunity comes, I’ll give it all I’ve got,” Blatt said. “If they need my help, I’ll help. If not, I’ll help the guys by supporting them and bringing energy to them in any way possible. I’ll be a great teammate. That’s what it’s about. That’s why I’m here.”

As for DoorDash, Blatt has no desire to give it up just yet.

“I think I’m going to do it on Mondays. If I have the energy. We’re off on Mondays, so I think I can do maybe Sunday nights and Monday nights. It’s easy work, depending on the night, and it pays pretty good. If you’re busy, it’s good. If you’re not, I can just sit in my car, do homework and study.”