Blackwell signs with University of New Orleans

Daniel Green | BWS Sports
Antonio Blackwell (seated in center) signed with the University of New Orleans last week, where he will run track and cross country. Joining him at the signing were (seated, from left) coach Scott Lee, Blackwell, his mother Alicia,(standing) LHS principal Mark Mawae and LHS athletic director Justin Scogin.

LEESVILLE - After beginning his senior year in South Carolina, Leesville senior Antonio Blackwell had no idea what was in store for his future.

But now he does.

Blackwell, in front of family and teammates, signed his national letter-of-intent to run cross country and track and field at the University of New Orleans last week in the Leesville High School library.

"I'm very proud of Antonio," said his mother, Alicia Blackwell. "I just want him to stay focused and keep working hard."

Blackwell arrived at Leesville for the second semester of his senior year as his family was transferred from South Carolina to Fort Polk.

Upon arrival, he joined the track team and instantly had success, drawing attention from a coach during a meet at LaGrange.

In the 1600-meter run that day, Blackwell led for most of the race but finished second with a time of 4:32, just one second behind a runner from St. Louis Catholic, the Class 3A cross country state champion as a matter of fact.

"The St. Louis coach asked me if I was running in college and I said no," Blackwell recalled. "So he took my information and the first call I got was from New Orleans."

And the rest, as they say, was history. Though Blackwell drew interest from many other schools, that initial interest and subsequent recruitment from New Orleans sealed his decision.

"They wanted me from the start," Blackwell said. "And it felt like the place for me."

According to LHS athletic director Justin Scogin, Blackwell's signing is huge for the Wampus Cat athletic program.

"Any time you have someone sign, it changes the game," Scogin said. 

Blackwell will graduate from LJHS later this week with a 3.5 grade-point average. He is the son of Alicia Taylor and Shadrack Cummings.