By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Relentless work ethic defines West Hall's Tilil Blackwell as he eagerly anticipates signing football scholarship with Division-II West Georgia
Tilil Blackwell
West Hall's Tilil Blackwell awaits the play against East Jackson during the 2021 game in Oakwood. Photo courtesy Tilil Blackwell For The Times

There’s never an off day for Tilil Blackwell. 

Now finished with his playing career at West Hall High, he is constantly grinding in the weight room and doing conditioning drills outdoors as he prepares for the next stage of life. 

At a gap time when many college football prospects are taking a breather before making the next step, Blackwell is working harder than ever. 

“I’m working out two, three times a day, every day,” Blackwell said. 

And all that extra effort has paid dividends. 

On Wednesday, Blackwell will sign a scholarship to play football at Division-II West Georgia.

After a long and thorough recruiting process, Blackwell made his decision public through Instagram on Monday afternoon. 

However, a single social media post can’t accurately convey the amount of work it took for Blackwell to get to this point in life. 

“I thank God every day for putting me in this position,” Blackwell said. 

As a senior, Blackwell recorded 72 tackles (9 for a loss), three sacks and two interceptions. 

From a young age, Blackwell molded his work ethic — and garnered his propensity for hitting — after 2018 Hall of Fame inductee Ray Lewis, who spent his career with the Baltimore Ravens. 

“You have to be super physical to play linebacker,” Blackwell said. “I just love getting to hit.”

And after attending a University of Georgia football game at age 5 with his parents, Tory and LaTasha Blackwell, the rest was history for the budding football star. 

Blackwell is one of five players from the Spartans signing to play at the next level. 

And, without question, one of the most deserving, in the eyes of West Hall coach Krofton Montgomery. 

“I can’t wait to see him go be successful,” Montgomery said. 

Blackwell will be signing with West Georgia, for football, along with his high school teammate Nick Sturm, also a linebacker. 

At 6-feet, 3-inches tall and 245 pounds, Blackwell will be walking into a very good situation, in college, along with having his tuition covered because he did things the right way in high school. 

Blackwell, who also forced three fumbles in 2021, was recruited by West Georgia to play a ‘Ram’ position, which is a hybrid linebacker/defensive end spot.

Montgomery said that Blackwell was an easy sell to college programs, which all saw the same thing on tape: a big, physical linebacker who would move mountains to get a chance to hit the ball carrier. 

Blackwell finished his senior season at about 230 pounds. 

Then, Blackwell took on a purposeful approach to putting on muscle mass to fit a particular role at the next level: bigger than your traditional middle linebacker, but smaller and quicker than a defensive end. 

During Christmas break, when West Hall’s campus was nearly empty, Montgomery said he would be coming in to unlock the weight room for Blackwell to get in his lifts. 

Then, he’d peer outside and see his same devoted athlete putting in the same effort with tackling sleds on an otherwise-empty field. 

“It feels great to see his hard work paying off,” West Hall’s coach said. “You can’t just will it into existence in your mind.”

In addition to being a defensive stud, Blackwell also left his mark at running back for the Spartans, scoring a new school-record 33 touchdowns on the ground. 

It was with the ball in his hands that Blackwell made his first unforgettable memory.

The last game of Blackwell’s sophomore season, he got the carry near the goal line.

He wasn’t nearly as established as a fearless athlete, but had the same fearless mentality.

Not only did he score, but he did it with a handful of defenders hanging on, trying unsuccessfully to bring Blackwell down. 

“That was just something you just can’t coach,” Montgomery said. 

West Hall’s coach could best describe his defenders hits as ‘vicious.’ 

As a junior, Blackwell had one of his most memorable stops. 

The first game of the 2020 season, Blackwell was unabated in chasing a running back and swiftly took the ball carrier off his feet. 

“He decleated him,” Montgomery said. “Tilil, he just hits differently.”

In his young life, Sparta is all Blackwell has ever known. 

And he’s remained fiercely loyal to the program where he was a ball boy in middle school. 

Blackwell said he was pursued particularly hard by other schools in the area for his family to relocate into their district, after the Spartans went 0-10 when he was a sophomore in 2019. 

He never gave switching schools a serious thought.

“Tilil believed in me and our staff to develop him to become the best player he can be,” Montgomery said. “That means a lot.”

Friends to Follow social media