Linsly School graduate Akil Blount played a few games in the city of Columbus during his prep career.
However, none of those drew the kind of crowd that the Florida A&M sophomore will see when he returns to the Buckeye State's capital city on Saturday.
"Since I went to high school in the Ohio Valley, it's going to be great to be playing in Ohio," Blount said during a phone interview earlier this week.
Blount, who is the son of Pittsburgh Steelers' Hall of Famer Mel Blount, will be trying to help his team pull one of the greatest upsets in college football history when the Football Championship Subdivision member Rattlers visit Ohio State for a noon kickoff to take on the No. 4 ranked and 3-0 Buckeyes.
"It's exciting to be able to come back toward home and play a game," Blount said. "I know a lot of my friends and former teammates are going to try to be at the game, so we just have to take advantage of an opportunity because the whole nation will be watching. We just need to play to the best of our ability."
The Buckeyes have been installed as 57 point favorites. Blount, who starts at outside linebacker, doesn't get caught up in that kind of stuff, but instead focuses on his preparation for the game itself.
"We can't let things affect how we play," Blount said. "No matter who we're playing, we need to play our best football game. This is just a bigger opportunity to show who we are and what we can do. We must have confidence in ourselves and look at this as another chance to show that anything is possible."
The Rattlers are 1-2 on the season and haven't won since Labor Day when they beat Mississippi Valley State in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge in Orlando. Since then, the Rattlers have fallen to Tennessee State (27-7) and Samford (27-20).
"We've gotten better, but there have been a handful of plays that have cost us," Blount said. "Coaches always say there are three, four or five plays during a game that determine the outcome and those plays haven't gone our way."
In Ohio State, the Rattlers will see one of the top offenses in the country with weapons all over the field. But, for Blount and company, it's just another step in the process of preparing for the upcoming conference season.
"We're trying to make a name for ourselves this weekend," Blount said. "We have a chance to show the world who we are. Every game is important and we'll never look past one to the next because you only get so many opportunities, but we realize that we've played probably the best teams on our schedule in the first few weeks, so we're hoping the tougher competition prepares us for the rest of our schedule."
Blount lettered for the Rattlers last season, but he played basically on special teams and saw spot duty on defense. He's moved into a full-time defensive starter this season and actually had a huge stop at the goal line during the Rattlers' season opener against Mississippi Valley State two weeks ago.
"Just being back on the field and playing feels great," Blount said. "Last year, it varied, from game to game, on how much I played. I travelled to every game and played a good bit, but it's nice being back on the field in a more consistent manner."
As an outside backer, Blount has recorded nine tackles, including five solo stops. He has 2.5 tackles for loss and half a sack along with a pass break up.
"I worked hard in the off-season to get ready through lifting weights, conditioning and studying a lot of film," Blount said.
Blount keeps in touch with Linsly head coach B.J. Depew and defensive coordinator James Cowart frequently. Both were planning on being in Columbus Saturday, but the Cadets' game against Wheeling Central got moved to Saturday night.
Blount also follows the collegiate careers of his former prep teammates, including Mark Dodd, Chris Stephens and Ricky Jordan. All of whom played big roles in the Cadets running the table to a 10-0 season and OVAC title.