Film Review: James BlackStrain Bolsters GT’s Receiving Core

Brian Smith

The Yellow Jackets gained a big commitment on May 13. That would be Florida product James BlackStrain.

For Georgia Tech Head Coach Geoff Collins and his offensive coaching staff to ignite the offense, more playmakers will be needed. This young man can provide excitement in a variety of ways.

James BlackStrain, WR, 6-2, 185, Cocoa (Fla.) Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

247: 3-Star, No. 96 Wide Receiver

Rivals: 4-Star, No. 51 Wide Receiver

Composite: 4-Star, No. 285 Overall, No. 52 Wide Receiver

If there’s one definitive component of BlackStrain’s repertoire, it’s his ability to out maneuver defensive backs. Savvy; instinctive; playmaker.

In short, BlackStrain sets up his moves with a deft touch. Example: BlackStrain demonstrated why he’s a wide receiver with the technique to consistently beat defensive backs deep. He routinely turned cornerbacks around while running right past them. That’s a skill within itself.

Note: BlackStrain missed his junior campaign with an ACL injury. The following film came from his sophomore season.

This first video clip demonstrated BlackStrain’s quick feet. Notice his hard outside step, allowing himself more room towards the interior of the gridiron. The cornerback turned towards the sideline, and boom! BlackStrain planted his left foot, then his route went vertical and right past the defender. Great route!

BlackStrain Runs Great Route

This second video played off the first because BlackStrain used his quick feet in combination with great body control. One of the most difficult routes to run is the back shoulder fade. While this was supposed to be a true fly route (9 route on the route tree), the football was under thrown. Thus, this route added the difficulty of basically changing what BlackStrain needed to do. Not an easy task.

For a back-shoulder fade, a wide receiver needs to run full speed, but also be ready to quickly slow down and turn around, with a cornerback next to him, and make a quick catch. It’s all about timing. BlackStrain demonstrated all the above within this following video clip. Again, this route was an adjustment. An NFL wide receiver does not always come up with this grab. Simply great concentration by BlackStrain.

BlackStrain 9 Route Body Control

The opposite side of the spectrum would be BlackStrain’s ability to take a short screen and turn it into a big offensive play. This play shows why BlackStrain could play in the slot or out wide. He’s simply an advanced high school wide receiver. Watch how BlackStrain sets up his cuts and his blocks before heading down the sideline for a touchdown.

BlackStrain Screen for a Touchdown

Overall, BlackStrain’s style of play could be compared to several players. A good comparison might be LSU’s slot wide receiver from last season, Justin Jefferson. Similar body build, adept at making tough catches, and running through traffic in similar fashion.

Now, Jefferson earned his way to being a first round draft pick and the No. 22 overall selection by the Minnesota Vikings. Thus, BlackStrain needs to continue to refine his game, gain strength and speed, and further understand defensive tendencies. With that stated, his style of play certainly resembles Jefferson. That will work well for Georgia Tech.

The Yellow Jackets need to be able to run the football and pass the football when they want to do either one. Far too often, the 2019 Georgia Tech offense was inconsistent. Part of that was putting in a new scheme, needing a different type of offensive lineman after the option was displaced by Coach Collins, and of course needing more playmakers.

The latter would be where BlackStrain comes into play.

It makes defensive coordinators think a little bit more before sending an all-out blitz or placing an extra defender in the box when wide receivers like BlackStrain line up on the outside. He can burn a defense in a heartbeat. That’s important for Georgia Tech, long term, to finally become a balanced offense.

While only one player, BlackStrain’s ability will aid all the running backs, as well as other wide receivers. BlackStrain truly bolsters the Georgia Tech wide receiver core.

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