Once upon a time, Rohan Blackwood was a basketball player who happened to play football.
When he arrived as a transfer from Gulf his sophomore year, he had already left a considerable mark on the hardwood with the Buccaneers, averaging double figures in scoring as a freshman.
He certainly hasn't disappointed in his two hoops seasons with the Sharks, helping them capture two straight district crowns and a Final Four appearance in 2011.
Last season the 6-foot-5, 215-pound power forward averaged 15.4 points and a county-high 11.0 rebounds per game, and was a repeat All-County selection.
But as time went on and college offers for football, and not basketball, started pouring in, Blackwood came to a revelation: that his future lied on the gridiron.
"I still love basketball and I'll still work on that. But football is my thought right now," Blackwood said.
"When I started I liked football, but I didn't have a passion for it like basketball. But when I transferred to Nature Coast, I started liking it a bit more."
In 2012, Blackwood fully blossomed on the football field, terrorizing quarterbacks to the tune of 14 sacks and 23 quarterback pressures.
He added 78 tackles out of his defensive end spot, including 17 behind the line of scrimmage. That made him an All-County pick in that sport, as well.
"He can make plays happen any time he wants," Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett said. "I think it is his size and also his athleticism. He's quick off the ball."
No wonder, then, that Blackwood has collected 11 offers from Division I schools - Florida International, Iowa State, Marshall, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue, South Alabama, UMass, USF, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
"It's crazy. They just started flowing in out of nowhere," Blackwood said. "I guess you can say it's motivation. It's kind of motivated me to keep doing what I'm doing.
"I just want to get after it. I know last year I was going hard, but I could try to go harder. I could have had more sacks and I need to go every play nonstop."
Like Tevin Drake, Ja'Juan Story and Matt Breida in recent Shark lure, the spotlight will fall to Blackwood as the team's, and perhaps the county's, top collegiate prospect.
Add in a typically stout Nature Coast defense atypically lacking in gritty tackling machines at linebacker, and the Sharks seem even more reliant on his production.
Blackwood also doubles as a wide receiver, having caught eight passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns a year ago.
With talented All-County wideout Jonathan Thomas moving to Atlanta, Blackwood is at least statistically the top returning target for Shark signal callers.
Blackwood even makes an appearance on special teams. He said he only comes off the field on kickoff coverage.
However, Liggett refused to heap on any more pressure than Blackwood already faces.
"Nothing is really on his shoulders other than what he would have to put on himself for what he has in front of him," Liggett said. "I think he has certain standards he has to uphold as far as his future is concerned.
"I think if Rohan gives everything he's got and does everything right, he'll have a huge year. He goes to camp and nobody can block him. The average tackle has a difficult time handling him. He totally controls his future. He has the ability to do really well."
Blackwood has already gotten off to a shaky start, getting hit with a two-game suspension after he was ejected from last Friday's exhibition at Citrus. That penalty may get reduced via appeal.
Still, there are certain goals he has set out to achieve. He'd like to duplicate the 10-sack improvement he had following his four sacks as a sophomore.
He talked about becoming more of a leader and role model, and helping the Sharks reach the postseason for the first time since he arrived on campus.
Then there's the dream of playing in college. He pointed to cousins who had similar opportunities, but had various obstacles keep them from fulfilling that potential.
He'd like for his story to end much differently, and knows a stellar senior season could go a long way toward making that happen.
"What I'm trying to do is have an even better year," Blackwood said," have other schools come in and see what I'm about."
By the numbers: Rohan Blackwood (2011-12)
YR SOLO ASST TTK TBL SK QBP CF FR PB BLK INT
So 20 19 39 8.0 4.0 6 1 1 1 0 0
Jr 44 34 78 17.0 14.0 23 1 1 3 0 0
Totals 64 53 117 25.0 18.0 29 2 2 4 0 0
YR REP YDS YPC TD LG
So 3 82 27.3 1 24*
Jr 8 130 16.3 2 26
Totals 11 212 19.3 3 26
* Denotes touchdown
2013 Nature Coast Sharks Roster
No. Name Pos. Yr Hgt Wgt
1 Jamison Carnegie QB/ATH/ CB So 5-10 150
2 Rohan Blackwood DE/WR Sr 6-5 215
3 Ryan McCane RB/DB So 5-8 155
4 DeShawn Smith RB/DB So 5-7 170
5 Ryan Quigley QB/DB Sr 6-0 165
6 Bryant Warkentine DE/TE/WR Sr 6-6 230
7 Sedrick Burkes LB/RB Jr 6-0 180
8 Andrew Parker DB/WR/ATH Jr 6-1 165
9 Ryan Roscillo WR/TE/DB Sr 6-3 186
12 Alec Perkins DB/WR Jr 6-1 160
14 Austin Lacy PK/P Jr 5-11 167
15 Justin Benyola WR/FS Jr 5-9 165
21 Cameron Syblis RB/LB So 6-1 186
22 Lenny Beetz LB/WR Jr 5-9 175
23 Jacob Grantz DB So 5-7 150
24 Kyle Voyles LB Sr 6-0 176
28 Christian Maner RB/DB Sr 5-7 160
30 Leshaun Gray DB Jr 5-11 168
32 Justin Ortega RB So 5-4 140
33 Dylan Miller LB Jr 5-10 175
35 Yannis Hantzis PK/P Sr 5-10 169
42 Andres Coons LB/FB Jr 5-9 186
44 Roshawn Williams LB/SS Sr 5-11 185
46 Joseph Leonard DB So 6-1 171
49 Mike Berg DB/WR Jr 6-0 160
50 Anthony Contegiacomo DL/OL So 5-9 216
52 Austin Moore OL/DL Sr 6-4 185
54 Hunter Rhineberger OL/DL So 6-2 259
55 Christian Pellage OL/DE Jr 6-7 250
56 James Pitman LB/OL Jr 5-11 175
57 Nick Vogel OL/DL Sr 6-2 205
58 Matt DiMuccio OL/DL Jr 5-10 227
59 Tyler Eaton OL/DL Jr 6-0 185
62 Tyler Arcand OL Jr 6-0 265
64 Jermaine Green DL/OL Jr 5-10 233
65 Deandre Hannah DL/OL Jr 5-10 181
66 Austin Wilkerson OL/DL Jr 6-2 221
67 Cass Cole OL/DL So 6-2 215
70 Frankie Ritchie DL/OL Jr 5-9 203
77 Dean Brooks DL/OL So 6-2 266
78 Steven Woop OL/DL Jr 6-1 285
Head coach: Charles Liggett (3rd year)
Assistant coaches: Andrew Coons, Jay Feret, Billy Hughes, Rob Kazmier, Ed LaRose, Chase Liggett, John Morris, Rick Munford, Pete Ruiz, Rudy Story, Jeff Swihart, Ryan Wilson
2013 Nature Coast Sharks Schedule
Date Opponent Site Time
8-30 Crystal River Away 7:30 p.m.
9-13 Springstead Home 7:30 p.m.
9-20 Central* (Homecoming) Home 7:30 p.m.
9-27 Pasco* Away 7:30 p.m.
10-4 Hernando* Away 7:30 p.m.
10-11 Zephyrhills* Home 7 p.m.
10-18 South Sumter* Home 7 p.m.
10-25 Ocala-Forest Away 7 p.m.
11-1 Weeki Wachee* Away 7:30 p.m.
11-8 Ocala-Lake Weir Home 7:30 p.m.
* Denotes Class 5A, District 6 game