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An In-Depth Look at Rutgers Freshman Running Back Raheem Blackshear

NCAA Football: Purdue at Rutgers Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Raheem Blackshear is a first year player at Rutgers this season, but he seems to have already begun to make quite a name for himself among fans, as well as opponents. So who is this guy?

Well, Raheem is a 5’9”, 185 pound running back out of Philadelphia who played his high school football career at Archbishop Wood HS in suburban Warminster. At Archbishop Wood, he was a catalyst player that led the school to defeat powerful Harrisburg HS last December 9 and win the PIAA Class 5A title. He ran through a strong defense for 236 yards and scored three touchdowns in that effort.

His entire senior season was no less spectacular, running for 1,257 yards on 147 carries and catching 26 passes for 433 yards in 14 games. He scored 25 touchdowns: 19 rushing, five receiving and one on an interception.

At the time, Raheem was headed to Temple, having committed to the Owls back in June 2016. The same week as his outstanding championship performance, Temple Head Coach Matt Rhule announced his departure to Baylor. At that time, along with other schools, Rutgers made a big push to lure Raheem away from Temple, which is not an unusual situation when a head coach leaves a program. However, it seemed ineffective when in late January, just prior to National Signing Day, the Detroit Free Press announced that Raheem decommitted from Temple, and announced his intention to play at Michigan State in 2017. That didn’t last long. Days later, Blackshear posted this on his Twitter account.

Raheem had just taken a visit to Rutgers, and the next day announced the decommitment from Michigan State above. At that time, On the Banks named him as a major remaining target for the class of 2017.

On February 1, it was finally settled, when Raheem signed with Rutgers as the last player to join Chris Ash’s second recruiting class. The young man was officially a Scarlet Knight.

Here is an interview with him from PennLive the day he signed.

It did not take him long to make an impression on the coaching staff. He has been in almost every game this season, starting with three carries for nine yards against Washington. After sitting out the game against Eastern Michigan, he followed that up in the big win against Morgan State with some impressive statistics: 14 carries for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns, as well as 2 catches for 30 yards. He made the final score of the day for the Scarlet Knights. Our managing editor Aaron Breitman had a nice article in which he discussed freshman contributions in that game.

Following a one-down appearance against Nebraska out in Lincoln, and a nice 14-yard catch against Ohio State, Raheem was stellar at Illinois, averaging 14.5 yards per carry while gaining 87 yards on only six carries, one of which was for a touchdown. That 19 yard TD finished with Raheem leveling Illinois’ Jalen Dunlap. He sure didn’t end that play like a freshman!

In last week’s game against Purdue, Raheem demonstrated his ability to catch-and-run with a beautiful 35-yard reception on 3rd and 19 for a TD that proved to be the winning score for Rutgers. Again, watch how he finished with a great little juke to ensure he would find his way in the end zone.

We are now more than halfway through the 2017 season. Raheem has had a very strong freshman campaign, particularly when you think that a year ago, he was playing against kids in high school, and is now playing in the best conference in college football! The rest of this season will be a tough one, with games to go against Michigan, Maryland, Penn State, Indiana and Michigan State. Those teams currently have a 24-11 combined record, and two of them (Penn State and Michigan State) only have one combined loss! It will be a week-to-week challenge for Blackshear, the freshman contingent, and the entire team. But that is life in the Big Ten.

Raheem Blackshear’s statistics also demonstrate the strong season to date. Fans have become familiar with his name, and he has quickly become a fan favorite for the excitement he brings. In Raheem’s own words, he is “shifty,” and that is something that we have not seen in a freshman since the arrival of Janarion Grant in 2013. Obviously, Offensive Coordinator Jerry Kill sees his skills as well, and has even said that he feels Raheem “ lightning in a bottle...I gave everybody a hard time. I said, You gotta give the ball to the kid more, Jiminy Christmas! Six carries for whatever it was...we’re limiting him a little bit.” You have to love Coach Kill’s way with words!

If Raheem continues his growth at this rate, he will become a very special player in Rutgers football lore. We are all looking forward to what the future will bring, and it is looking like the future is now.