CONCRETE — Wide receiver Devin Blankenship has found plenty of room to roam this season in opposing secondaries.
The 6-foot-1, 160-pound Concrete senior leads Skagit County with 27 catches for 491 yards for an 18.2 yards-per-catch average.
While Blankenship was a starter a season ago, Concrete was flush at receiver, so he patiently waited his turn to become his team’s primary option in the passing game.
In the offseason he worked hard to get bigger, faster and stronger.
That time and effort paid off as Blankenship gained 25 pounds while growing two inches taller.
“He’s one of those athletes that put in the extra time and effort to get better,” Concrete coach Arthur Sanchez said. “He was constantly in the weight room. He was committed ... He’s one of our captains and is a great team leader.”
So committed was Blankenship that last school year he didn’t play the first sport he ever suited up for — baseball — choosing to turn out for track instead. The thought was that participating in the long, triple and high jump events would help him on the gridiron.
“I made the decision to train for football instead of playing baseball,” Blankenship said. “I figured it would help increase my speed. Track turned out to be a good fit for me.
“I also spent a lot of time in the weight room. I took a powerlifting class to get stronger.”
And Blankenship ate. He ate a lot. As in 4,000 calories a day in order to gain weight. Protein powders and chicken were key, Blankenship said.
“I play with a lot more confidence because I’m not that small, skinny kid anymore,” he said. “I’m well over 150 pounds now and I’m in shape.”
“He gets himself open,” Sanchez said. “He gets those jump balls and he is really good at double moves. When Peyton (Sanchez, the Lions’ quarterback) is rolling out, he can find Devin. That’s big. He has become his favorite target.”
Blankenship’s added strength and speed have made him a dangerous wide receiver.
“Having that go-deep threat, that ability to get over the top on the defense is big,” he said. “I play cornerback (on defense). I know how hard it is to defend a wide receiver, particularly one that can run past you.
“What that does is open up a lot of double moves. Those are my favorite routes. The defense thinks you are going deep — they back off — and then you make your move. My favorite routes are five- and 10-yard outs.”
As Arthur Sanchez said, Blankenship has become a favorite target for Peyton Sanchez.
“If I’m lined up on the right side and I see Peyton scrambling to the left, I’m booking it to the left to give him a target,” Blankenship said. “And he has the ability to put the ball right where it needs to be.”
While the Lions have yet to win this season, Blankenship knows he and his teammates are doing all they can. And for him personally, his perseverance is paying off.
“I expected to have a good season,” Blankenship said. “I worked really hard. So far, it has gone better than I planned.”