MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., -- The gymnasium was abuzz waiting for Lejeune High School running back Jimmie Blair Jr., to make his entrance. What a birthday present for Blair Jr., who signed to play football with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Feb. 7, in front of hundreds of fellow students.
At 6 feet, 200 pounds, the Devil Pup running back recently went to Duke University’s Combine where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.66 and leaped 31 inches during the vertical jump portion.
Blair — the son of Sgt. Maj. Jimmie Blair, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26 at MCAS New River, chose UAB, for a number of reasons, not the least of which was location — both of his parents were raised in Birmingham.
With a skill untouched by most in the area, Blair rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a junior and was selected to the Coastal Plains Conference all-star team. Despite a tibia fracture in the second game of his senior season, in a game in which he’d already run for 120 yards on 13 carries, Blair also received offers from the University North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee Tech, the Citadel, Army and Virginia Tech.
The road to recovery hasn’t been an easy one, but with hard work the elder Blair said Blair Jr.’s comeback was not a surprise.
“He trained a lot over the summer — the school was well-aware of his injury, it was not a surprise that he was going to come back just as strong,” said the career Marine, who, along with his wife, also made it a point to
give credit where credit is due.
“I am really happy with Lejeune High School’s faculty and all the support they have given to him,” said Joann Blair.
Sgt. Maj. Hayward Williams, Marine Tiltrotor Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron-22 sergeant major and friend of the family took time away to be there in support of the Blairs.
“It is great to see a guy coming from a [Department of
Defense] school and going to the big leagues,” he said. “He represents all military kids.”
Like most military kids and families today, the Blairs had the added stress of parental deployments.
“The comment was made that it takes a village to raise a child, and that is exactly what happened,” said Williams, who offered support to Joann and Blair Jr., while the senior Blair was deployed to Iraq, pushing Jimmie to spend time on his schoolwork as well as the field, in his dad’s absence.
“All I did was make sure that he kept hitting the books, I am sure that the sergeant major would do the same for me,” said Williams.
Blair’s enthusiasm on the fields in unquestionable. Though off the field, he is yet to pick a major. His varied fields of interest include dentistry, biology and accounting.
The senior, who turned 18 Sunday, was sure about one thing.
“I am overjoyed, this is a dream come true,” said Blair.