Linsly School graduate Blount receives HOF Fellowship in Canton

WHEELING – He is the son of an NFL Hall-of-Famer. Now, Akil Blount has his own piece of the pro football Hall of Fame.

The former Linsly School three-sport standout has been chosen as the initial recipient of the James Harris-Doug Williams Fellowship. The fellowship is named after NFL quarterbacks and came to fruition through a joint effort by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Black College Football Hall of Fame.

Harris and Williams are co-founders of the Black College Football Hall of Fame, establishing it in 2009. It is located in Atlanta. The fellowship is awarded to a graduate of a Historically Black College & University.

Blount was a standout gridder at Florida A&M, starting three years at linebacker. Moreover, he was a standout in the Rattlers’ classroom.

Blount was a dean’s list student at A&M, picking up his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2015. This past May, he received he master’s degree at the university.

The fellowship will have Blount working with the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He will be involved with the hall’s executive leadership team.

“I can’t thank God enough for opportunities such as these. Thank you to the Pro Football HOF and the BCFHOF,” Blount commented via Twitter. “From on the field to off the field, I’m excited to continue my football career.”

The two-time all Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference honoree finished hi A&M career with 207 tackles, including 22.5 for a loss. His leadership skills were exhibited on and off the playing field, serving as a team captain for two seasons while also being the president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee that represented all athletes at Florida A&M.

At Linsly, Blount starred in football, basketball and track.

He turned in a remarkable senior grid campaign for Coach B.J. Depew’s Cadets. He recorded an amazing 30 QB sacks en route to making first-team all-OVAC honors and being selected the team’s MVP.

“Akil was always motivated to achieve at a high level, whether it was in school, in athletics or in terms of his character and leadership. I was always impressed that he worked so hard in each of those areas,” Depew said. “He could have easily chosen to excel only in athletics, which was where he had the most natural talent.

“Being the son of such a well-known and successful professional athlete, it would have been easy for him to just ride his father’s coattails. Instead, he prided himself on being the best version of himself that he could be,” he added. ” Linsly is so proud of everything that he has done and will continue to do with his life.”

Blount also earned first-team all-OVAC honors in basketball as a senior, a season in which he averaged some 24 points a game. He had a single-game high of 40 points.

His dad, Mel, was a star cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, helping the Black & Gold to four Super Bowl titles. The elder Blount was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989 and is still considered one of the greatest defensive backs in league history. The former Southern University great is also a member of the Black College Football Hall of Fame.

CHAMPION PATRIOTS

WHEELING PARK enjoyed a successful run at the recent West Liberty University’s boys basketball team camp. WLU assistant coach and camp director Mike Lamberti attracted 14 teams from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Wheeling Park and Weirton Madonna were the only local teams to participate.

The Patriots finished the weekend 7-1 and captured the tournament title. On Sunday, Michael Jebbia’s charges defeated Scott (W.Va), 69-63, in the quarterfinals, Delaware Hayes (Ohio), 59-57, in the semifinals and Peters Township (Pa.), 53-52, in the finals. Park’s lone loss was to Toledo Star, 60-55.

BUBBA’S BITS

KUDOS TO Billy Timko. The longtime baseball junkie recorded his 300th win last week as manager of the Barton Braves of the Ohio Valley Baseball League. Timko also served as assistant football coach for Rick Goodrich at Bridgeport, Cambridge and John Marshall.

CALDWELL HIGH School has a new athletic director. Eli Svercek is now in charge of Redskin athletics. He is also the head girls’ basketball coach.

THE OHIO High School Athletic Association has awarded $170,750 in college scholarships to 199 recent high school graduates. The OHSAA’s annual college scholarship program is now in its 27th year. Local recipients were Kyle Storer, St. Clairsville; Haleigh Osman, Shadyside; and Jason Sommer, Bridgeport.

THE MOTHER of all tennis tournaments opens this week. My Wimbledon champion picks are Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka.

WVU ENJOYED one of its most successful baseball seasons in school annals. As a result, Mountaineers head coach Randy Mazey has been named the East Regional Coach of the Year, selected by the American Baseball Coaches Association.

FOUR MUSKINGUM University softball players from OVAC schools were honored by the National Fastpitch Coaching Association. Kierstyn Czuchran (Buckeye Local), Jolyn Shunk (St. Clairsville), Alexia Dowdle (Harrison Central) and Hannah Miller (Buckeye Trail) all gained Easton/NFCA Scholar-Athlete accolades. To be recognized, student-athletes must have a 3.5 cumulative GPA for the academic year. Muskingum went 31-11 this season, winning the Ohio Athletic regular-season championship.

FORMER STEUBENVILLE High quarterbacking star Zach Collaros is currently on the Saskatchewan Roughriders six-game injury list. The OVAC Hall of Famer incurred a concussion in his team’s Canadian Football League opener. Collaros, who starred at the University of Cincinnati after leading the Big Red to two state OHSAA championships, passed for 3,000 yards last season for the Roughriders.

OUR THOUGHTS and prayers go out to the family of Gene Ford. The legendary Cambridge High basketball coach died Friday after a courageous battle against cancer. He scripted an OVAC coaching career second to none.

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