HOUSTON, TX — It's going to be a different type of homecoming for former USF quarterback Marquel Blackwell. The St. Pete-native led the Bulls from 1999-2002. This weekend, he returns to Raymond James Stadium, but he'll have to remember to jog to the visitors' sideline. Blackwell is in his third season as an assistant coach with the University of Houston.
"It’ll definitely be a different feeling than I’ve ever felt before. I’ve never been on that side," Blackwell joked. He said he never even went to that sideline during spring football. "So it’ll be different. Pretty excited about getting back. It'll be my first time in that stadium as a coach since 2009. A lot of memories."
Blackwell is still USF's all-time leader in passing yards (9,108) and completions (795). In 2001, he engineered a 35-26 upset win at Pittsburgh, which was the biggest win in the history of the program. But Blackwell, a 2013 USF Hall of Fame inductee, doesn't point to one particular moment that defines his playing career.
"I think the biggest thing is just the times that I had with my teammates and the coaches that have been there," Blackwell said. "Nothing would be possible without my teammates. Nothing would be possible without the guys that sacrificed from the day-to-day grind that it took from '97 to now."
In a full-circle moment, Blackwell, who coaches the Cougars running backs, coached against Jim Leavitt in Houston's 44-37 win over SMU last week. Leavitt is SMU's defensive coordinator, and he coached USF from the inception of the program through the 2009 season.
"It’s crazy. It seems like a couple of years ago he was coaching me, and we’re going up against each other coaching. So it was good," Blackwell laughed. "You always want to be right, treat people right, and do it the right way."
USF (2-6, 1-3 AAC) hosts Houston (7-1, 5-0 AAC) for homecoming on Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.