Georgia Tech WR Leo Blackburn’s ACL tear confirmed by Brent Key

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Georgia Tech wide receiver Leo Blackburn’s likely season-ending knee injury was confirmed Wednesday by coach Brent Key. Blackburn tore his ACL in practice on Monday, the team’s fourth workout of spring practice. The tear was in the knee opposite the one he suffered the same injury in as a freshman in 2021.

“Unfortunate for Leo,” Key said following the team’s Wednesday practice. “Great kid. He’s been snakebit the last three years with these things. But the thing we talk about with our team every day is, be where your feet are. Control what you can control and take each day one day at a time. Learn from the past and prepare for the future.”

Blackburn, who was a four-star prospect coming out of Westlake High in the class of 2021, has dealt with a string of injuries that most likely will limit his playing time to seven games in his first three years on campus. In his first season with the team, he tore his ACL in the second day of preseason practice, sidelining him for the season. A wrist injury prior to the 2022 season kept him sidelined for the first five games of the season, after which he caught five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.

With the Yellow Jackets losing three of their four leading receivers from the 2022 season, Blackburn was considered to be a potential breakout star with his combination of size, speed and ball skills. New offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner said in the first week of spring practice that he was “greatly encouraged” by Blackburn’s performance and was also struck by his enthusiastic attitude.

But it will have to wait. If he so chooses, Blackburn figures to be eligible for a medical hardship waiver to regain a year of eligibility for three total.

“He came in the office, (I) talked to his mom, talked to him,” Key said. “I was like, ‘Leo, this is great news, man. Great news.’ Because now, Leo’s not just going to graduate from Georgia Tech. Now he’s going to get a master’s from Georgia Tech. He’s still going to chase every dream he had in football and be able to succeed in it.”

Key said that it would require “a lot of acts of higher aboves” for Blackburn to be able to play this season.

“I don’t see him playing this year,” Key said.

The injury opens up playing time for other receivers. Besides Blackburn, Malik Rutherford is the only receiver on the roster who caught a pass for the Jackets a year ago, totaling 23 receptions. Transfers Christian Leary (Alabama) and Abdul Janneh (Duquesne) have caught Faulkner’s notice. Incoming freshman receivers Eric Singleton and Bryce Hopson will both add to the team’s speed.

“The receiver position’s actually been a positive,” Key said. “I’ve been very pleased with the first five days as far as getting the ball in space. Buster’s done a great job of designing plays to get the ball in the open, working sideline to sideline, with the ball in their hands.”