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SALT LAKE CITY — Julian Blackmon is proud of where he comes from.
A three-sport star at Layton High, Blackmon was the starting point guard on a state championship team, a state champion long jumper, and a star receiver on the football team.
Yet despite his accomplishments in high school (and a broken hand that curtailed his senior year), he had very few offers to play football at the next level. Only one Power 5 school gave him an offer — but Utah was all he needed.
"I was actually speechless when they offered me. I didn’t know what to say," Blackmon told KSL Sports back in 2015. "It was just awesome."
Now a sophomore, Blackmon has developed rapidly. He started all 13 games of the Utes' 7-6 season at cornerback, leading the team with four interceptions and six pass breakups.
In the postseason, the 6-foot-1 defensive back was named second-team all-Pac-12 and, most recently, the most valuable player of the Heart of Dallas Bowl with two interceptions in a 30-14 win over West Virginia.
"I just keep my head down and keep working," Blackmon said. "I knew that one day, the Lord would bless me — and he has. I’m excited for this day, to be with my teammates and to be with this team. At the end of the day, we’re all playing football."
His head coach thinks 2017 was just the beginning of a standout career for Blackmon.
"I think he’s one of the best corners in the country, and I think he’s going to prove that more over the next couple of years," Utah's Kyle Whittingham said. "He’s just a true sophomore, and he has incredible skills and a skill set that is exactly what you look for."
Blackmon is part of a star-studded sophomore class that earned invaluable experience this season. He may have been the biggest susprise for the Utes in contributing so much so early.
But the athletic super sophomore gives Ute fans hope and excitement for the future of Utah football.
"People better watch out," Blackmon said. "It’s not just the Pac-12; I think we can go really far with this team, and I’m excited to be part of it."