Ranking the Contenders: Kendrick Blackshire
Rivals250 middle linebacker Kendrick Blackshire came close to revealing his college decision last summer, but in the 11th hour elected not to make a decision. At the time, Blackshire was strongly giving consideration to LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
Blackshire never made a decision and wound up missing his entire junior campaign due to an ACL injury. While commitment has been a rumored possibility for the four-star prospect, he recently revealed a final six of Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Baylor, Oklahoma and Illinois. We rank the contenders below.
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Blackshire has frequented Tuscaloosa on multiple occasions in the past year and is a top target for the Alabama coaching staff in 2021. Last summer, after trips to Alabama and LSU, Blackshire seemed poised to commit to either the Crimson Tide or the Tigers. Alabama again seemed in line for a possible commitment from Blackshire at the start of the spring during the stay-at-home orders. Odds are the Tide will be a major factor in Blackshire's decision - whenever it may come.
LSU was the first to extend an offer to Blackshire prior to his ninth-grade season. He has been a top target for coach Ed Orgeron and his staff and has gotten the four-star inside backer on campus every year on different occasions. It would have been very plausible to see Blackshire commit to the Tigers as recently as last summer, but his decision to postpone opened the door up for other contenders like Alabama, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. We expect LSU will get an official visit or at least another unofficial before Blackshire makes the call.
3. TEXAS A&M
Texas A&M was fortunate enough to get Blackshire back on campus right before the COVID-19 pandemic led to an indefinite NCAA dead period. The Aggies were - at one point - fading in Blackshire's recruitment before Jimbo Fisher and Co. were able to bring the Dallas-area prospect back to town. Texas A&M has surfaced as the most likely landing spot among in-state schools, and an official visit appears to be likely at this point.
The Sooners were the only non-SEC team to emerge as a finalist for Blackshire last summer. The North Texas four-star has frequented Norman quite a bit over the past year-plus, and on separate occasions, Oklahoma looked to be a legitimate landing spot. Blackshire returned to campus this spring and the Sooners appear to be very much in the race moving forward. Like Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M, Oklahoma is likely to get an official visit or another unofficial before Blackshire reaches a decision.
Baylor hosted Blackshire earlier this spring for a visit, and the Bears must be recognized as growing contenders in this sweepstakes. Former LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has taken over as the Bears' head coach, and he was a part of an LSU contingent courting Blackshire to the Bayou. Now, Aranda and former LSU defensive line coach Dennis Johnson, in the same position at Baylor, is leading the charge for the Bears.
The Illini offered Blackshire way back in January of last year and have steadily recruited Blackshire hard enough to crack his final group of six schools. Illinois has pulled some off some heists in the Lone Star State before, signing four-star Calvin Avery in 2017 and Marquez Beason in 2019. Illinois may be a bit of a dark horse to repeat history with Blackshire in 2021, but Lovie Smith's team can't be ruled out just yet.