HUNTINGTON, W.Va.– Many students at Marshall who come from faraway places have to adapt to life in a new environment in Huntington, and that holds true for Marshall junior defensive lineman Arnold Blackmon.
Blackmon joined the Thundering Herd in advance of this season as a junior college transfer from Bellaire, Tex., and says his transition to Huntington began with the outstretched arms of coach Doc Holliday and defensive line coach JC Price.
“Marshall fit me best,” said Blackmon. “There was a need for me here, and I wanted to be here. Coach Holliday and Coach Price, they made me feel more than welcome through the visit, coming to see me, sending the letters, communicating with me throughout the recruitment process. I felt loved.”
Growing up in Texas, Blackmon was around the numerous college programs in the state such as Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech, but never thought he would be playing at the highest level of collegiate football, much less be playing for a team in West Virginia.
“You look at big time ball on TV, and you realize, ‘Maybe I have a chance to play there, maybe I have a chance to do this,’ but you never honestly think about it until you get there,” Blackmon remembers. “It’s a blessing getting so many opportunities to be here on this stage.”
There are many cultural differences between Huntington and the Houston-metro area, but Blackmon said he enjoys the closeness of everyone in Huntington above all.
“With Houston being so spread out, and Texas being so wide and diverse, it’s hard to stay close to people,” explains Blackmon. “Out here, it’s so close, everybody is right in town, I love it.”
In his time in Huntington, Blackmon has taken a liking to the local restaurant Fat Patty’s, but not just because of the food. He said he loves seeing the various pieces of Marshall history and memorabilia hanging on the walls as well.
“Just to be in the shoes those guys were in so long ago, now it’s a blessing and also a great opportunity and I just hope I can show respect to their names,” Blackmon said of former Herd players such as Chad Pennington and Troy Brown who have pictures and other historic relics hanging inside the restaurant.
In addition to appreciating the history inside Fat Patty’s, Blackmon discovered how much the Marshall football program means to Huntington and the type of fan base the Herd has had ever since the plane crash in 1970 while watching “We Are… Marshall”.
“It let me know the tradition, the fans, and the support behind the school is tremendous,” says Blackmon. “It’s something that’s been close-knit and this tight for such a long time, it’s hard to beat.”
– Braxton Crisp