COUGAR TRACKS

Former BYU WR Giving Back To Those In Need Through Music

Jan 14, 2022, 11:36 AM | Updated: 11:44 am
BYU Football - Devon Blackmon...
Devon Blackmon poses for a photo at BYU in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

OREM, Utah – Former BYU football wide receiver Devon Blackmon is hosting a concert tonight in Utah County. The event, “RedshirtSZN,” is a clean rap concert that’s purpose will be to help the special needs kids he’s teaching in California.

It takes place on Friday, January 14, at 8:30 p.m. at the Boardwalk Venue (1384 West Center Street) in Orem. Tickets start $10 per person.

Blackmon, who played at BYU from 2014-15, was a fan favorite. Once a heralded recruit signed with Oregon out of high school, Blackmon arrived at BYU after a stop in JUCO football. He recently caught up with me to discuss his life after football and his passion for giving back to those in need.

How has life been for you after BYU Football?

Blackmon: “Life has been nothing but beautiful. After football, I was depressed, I didn’t have an identity, I felt like a war veteran without a home. Nobody was cheering my name; I didn’t have a practice schedule, I had to get my life together, and I didn’t know where to start. So life after football and BYU led me to write an album to close that chapter finally. I am currently a teacher and I train kids in the sport that I love. I am currently making music for students athletes so that they can have something to listen to when they feel lost or inspired.”

What led you to a career of teaching special needs students?

Blackmon: I have always been a teacher; I just didn’t notice it. Being a football player, you’re naturally a role model. You have a gift that you get people to admire you, so naturally you are seen as a hero. I have always taken time out for the kids and my community, thanks to my parents, Lawal and Ayanna.

“When I was depressed and I didn’t have anywhere to turn to, I stumbled across an opportunity to teach, I thought it was a regular position, but the first day of the job, I learned it was autistic children. I was scared at first because I didn’t know how I could help, but if you had any encounter with me, you would know that this was perfect for me. And GOD didn’t make any mistake.

You see, I am blessed with energy that is contagious. For anybody who works with autistic kids, they THRIVE OFF THAT! So it was quite the perfect situation for me. I was once a depressed football player who thought my value was on the field. I found myself finding value in helping these children because some of them can’t speak, walk, or talk, but they always find a way to be happy about life; they always find a way to be considerate of one another and show love. And that taught me a lesson. I had an opportunity to play football and I should be very thankful because some people can’t even walk. Some people can’t even talk, and here I am mad because I didn’t make the NFL (laughs). I have so much to be grateful for; I just needed to open my eyes! But that’s how I started teaching, and I’m glad I did.

What is the goal of the RedshirtSZN concert?

Blackmon: The goal of this concert is to bring awareness to Autism and life after sports for any athlete. I want them to be aware that they are more than sports, and they have other talents that they can focus on. I want to create an environment with these concerts where they can connect and network, and share their experiences with me.

*****

Blackmon’s music can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Youtube, and Soundcloud. For those attending Friday night’s concert, spectators are being asked to wear a mask.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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