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Indianapolis Colts DC Says Former Utah Safety Julian Blackmon Is a ‘Game-Changer’

Utah defensive back Julian Blackmon (23) runs an interception back for a touchdown during the second half of the Utah-BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. (Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said that former Utah Utes safety Julian Blackmon is a “game-changer” with his “ability to take the football away.”

The Colts recently selected Blackmon with the 85th overall pick during the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Eberflus spoke about Blackmon’s fit with Indianapolis during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, May 12.

“The first thing that pops off the tape right there is his ability to take the football away. So when you have that ability, you are what we call a game-changer,” Eberflus told reporters Tuesday on a conference call. “You are a guy that can help us win football games by taking the football away. So that is number one.”

Eberflus continued by highlighting Blackmon’s versatility and ability to play multiple positions for the Colts. The former Utes safety moved over from cornerback for the final season of his Utah career.

“Then number two, the thing you are alluding to is his versatility,” Eberflus continued. “He can play on a tight end, he can potentially play on a bigger type receiver, he can play in the deep part of the field and he can drop down into the box and play the run. So we are excited to have Julian in there.”

The DC said the Colts aren’t just excited to have Blackmon for the skill set that he currently has, but believes the organization can “enhance” the safety’s talents.

“The way he plays, he is so close to our standard already. He doesn’t have a far way to go in terms of learning how to play,” Eberflus said. “That is why a lot of these guys are drafted for because they already play a certain way in college and we like what we see there in terms of that and we just bring them here and kind of enhance that.”

Julian Blackmon’s Collegiate Career

The Layton, Utah native started his successful college career at Utah in 2016 where he appeared in 9 games on special teams and four games on defense.

Blackmon’s sophomore season in 2017 saw him start in all 13 games at cornerback. He racked up 4 interceptions, 10 passes defended, 6 pass breakups, and 48 tackles. Blackmon was named second-team All-Pac-12.

In 2018 at cornerback, Blackmon started in all 14 games while leading Utah with 10 pass breakups and 11 passes defended. He also had one interception, 48 tackles, and 4 tackles for loss which led to him being named second-team All-Pac-12.

Last season in 2019 as a senior at safety, Blackmon started in 12 games, missing the game against Idaho State and the Alamo Bowl. Blackmon had a Pac-12-best 4 interceptions along with 8 passes defended, 4 pass breakups, 60 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. The former Layton star had a pick-six against BYU in the season opener. He was named an All-American and first-team All-Pac-12.

Julian Blackmon’s Fit With Indianapolis

Blackmon is currently recovering from an ACL injury that he suffered during the Pac-12 Championship Game against Oregon.

The safety is hopeful to participate in the Colts’ training camp later this year.

ESPN.com has Blackmon listed as the backup free safety to Malik Hooker.

The two players that are projected to start at free and strong safety for the Colts are Malik Hooker and Khari Willis.

Hooker is entering the final year of his contract. Blackmon could be his replacement if Indianapolis does not resign Hooker after the 2020 season. George Odum is the third-string free safety according to ESPN.com sitting behind Blackmon.

Willis has three years remaining on his current contract. The strong safety position seems to be locked up for the next few seasons. Rolan Milligan and Donald Rutledge Jr. are the two backups at strong safety.

Blackmon was the only safety that the Colts selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. He will wear No. 32 with Indianapolis.

The Colts did not resign safety Clayton Geathers and allowed him to hit the free agency market.

The Colts open the 2020 NFL regular season on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, September 13.

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