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Blanton tough on the field, loud off of it

Jay Fitzpatrick | Friday, October 31, 2008

On the field for the Irish this season, freshman Robert Blanton’s biggest contribution came against Purdue when he returned an interception for a touchdown.

“Coach Brown made a great call, put me in a great position to make the play,” Blanton said of the pick. “And then once I caught the ball, my teammates were there to make the blocks left and right into the end zone.”

Off the field, he has made his biggest impact with his mouth.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said Blanton is one of the biggest trash talkers on the team, something he has had to temper at times this season.

“Like I’ve had an incident, players have had incidents, ” Weis said. “Because sometimes you have to pull them aside and say, okay, you’re a freshman and if you want to do this, this is what’s going to come with the territory. We have had that side of the story as well.”

When asked how chirpy he is during practices or games, Blanton thought for a while and then smiled and laughed.

“I honestly don’t say too much. I try to keep it down, I just pump my teammates up, give them confidence, keep them going,” he said.

However, classmate Darius Fleming told the true story.

“Honestly, he’s definitely not quiet, not one bit,” Fleming said. “I love R.J., he brings a lot of emotion to the team. And even though he’s a wild guy, it’s great to be like that at times. He has a lot of heart and just plays with emotion.”

Blanton opened up about his trash talking after learning that Fleming spilled the beans.

“We’ve always talked a little junk back and forth with each other in high school and little league, I guess it’s just kind of stuck,” he said.

Weis told one example that describes Blanton’s personality in practice.

“He had an interception in a one on one [in practice], so he intercepts the ball and he runs about ten yards to where the offensive guys are and then he just dives over the line like he was diving into the end zone, okay, and spikes the ball,” he said.

Blanton explained that play, saying he wanted to nettle the offensive players.

“Any time you make a big play is to make the offense feel worse about it so they will make another bad play. I try to do that every time,” he said.

Blanton said he likes to rile up Irish receivers Golden Tate and Michael Floyd in practice to make them up their games.

“If I get them riled up, I know they’ll give me their best shot. So I’m just trying to get them going a little bit,” he said.

One main target of Blanton’s trash talk this season has been fellow freshman, receiver Michael Floyd. Floyd said Blanton’s talkativeness is necessary for a defensive back.

“You gotta have swagger if you’re a DB. If you don’t you’re not really a DB,” he said.

But Floyd can hold his own in the back-and-forth.

“He thinks he’s a good basketball player, but he sucks though. I never really play him because he’s just average,” he said of Blanton.

Blanton is not always the smack-talker that he is when playing, however.

“I’ve got a personality on the football field and a personality off the football field,” he said. “Off the football field, I quiet down, tone down. On the football field I try to release all my energy.”

Blanton said his life at Notre Dame is pretty simple.

“I like to hang out with teammates. Most times we’re going back and forth from football to study hall to dinner. … And hanging out with the ladies,” he said.

But the Blanton said he thinks the one thing people should know about him is the “No. 1 woman in [his] life,” at least until he gets married: his mother Kathrine Edwards.

During the days off for fall break, Blanton said he returned home to North Carolina for a surprise visit to his mother.