April 9, 2011

Bruising LB commits to UC

When UC football coaches paired visitor Greg Blair with cornerback Reuben Johnson they knew he would get an earful. Johnson can talk all day, sell you on anything.

"That is my cat," said Blair. "He is one of the coolest dudes."

R.J. and starting linebacker J.K. Schaffer hosted Blair for this his official visit.

Hours after the Saturday morning practice Blair put pen to paper, officially becoming the 25th member of the UC Class of 2011.

Welcome ceremony

Blair becomes the only Pennsylvania-born player on the roster. For now. By June 12th, the rest of the Class of 2011 heads to Cincinnati and top talent Jameel Poteat doubles the PA population.

The junior college transfer Blair adds girth, power to a swift, undersized linebacking unit. Schaffer excels in open space, but was blown off the play at Fresno State last fall. Maalik Bomar has tremendous pop, but makes most of his plays off the edge.

Blair is a no-nonsense run stopper. He uses his wide chest to maul anxious rushers. Stopping the run has to be a priority for Cincinnati in 2011 with several BIG EAST feature backs returning.

Saturday Blair watched UC practice in person and came away confident he can slide right in.

"Base 4-3 defense," said Blair. "It is what I have been doing all my life."

Decisions, decisions

Cincinnati was not the only school Blair considered. First, as a high school senior he heard from West Virginia, Pitt, Akron, and many I-AA schools.

After two years of junior college at Lakawanna, Blair traveled down the recruitment corridor once more.

"I was talking to Miami (FL) a little bit and Pitt," said Blair. "I was talking to Pitt a little bit and a lot of D-AA."

His whole family is very proud of him as Blair has been dreaming about this day (signing D1 scholarship) for years. After he announced the commitment on facebook his phone rang incessently.

Friends, family, former teammates all wanted to congratulate him. He was touched.

The 260-pound body pinning running backs to the turf may appear filled with rage and anger. A mere facade. A gameday convention.

Blair is a vivacious personality with a kind heart. If only opposing BIG EAST running backs knew what a softie they were facing.

One Panther, one Bearcat

Blair is the younger brother of former Pitt Panther, current San Antonio Spur DeJuan Blair. They won a State Championship in basketball together.

By signing with Cincinnati he will have to drop his allegiance to his brother's college, Pitt. However there is one Pittsburgh team he will not turn his back on.

When asked if he will now adopt the Cincinnati NFL team as his own Blair swiftly replied, "Never will I cheer for the Bengals."

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