"We didn't have him in the program full-time," Campbell said, recalling his first impressions of Blake. "He came in with aspirations of being a basketball player. So we didn't get him until the tail end of his sophomore year; spring training of his sophomore year. We knew immediately that he had some pretty impressive physical skills. But what was unique was that he had those skills in a 6-foot-3 frame.
"So he was, the cliché word right now is very intriguing," Campbell said. "It was just a matter of whether or not we were going to be able to catch him up from a football-skills knowledge standpoint. He got an opportunity to play and had his best game our last game of the playoffs his junior year, and he just caught on like wildfire."
And the attention that followed immediately from college coaches had as much to do with Blake's potentially unique skill set as it did his actual football ability at the time, Campbell said.
"I think he was able to find his special niche in the market," Campbell said. "I think now with receivers getting bigger, that position is becoming more of a physical deal than what it has been in the past. Athletically, there's no doubt (that Blake can play cornerback). The days of the 5-10 corner are, I don't want to say numbered, but things have changed. You have to have guys that can handle that 6-3 to 6-5, 220-pound wide receiver that has become kind of the vogue thing the past five years or so."
That's not to say that Blake is totally raw. In fact, Campbell said his time playing basketball helped him transition into his role as a cover cornerback easily.
"I think there's a lot of similarities between playing basketball, playing middle infield in baseball and playing in the defensive secondary," Campbell said. "Obviously there's specifics to each sport, but you have to have a base level of skills to do any of those. I think without a doubt that helped him out. You have to have a high level of athletic ability to play corner, and he had that naturally."
And he also had that key word — upside — that so many staffs covet. With Blake only playing football his final two years at Brandeis, there's plenty of room for growth.
"Florida State has a neat deal (with Blake) in that they still have quite a ways to develop him," Campbell said. "He's far from maxed out. And I think that, without a doubt, he can play multiple positions. You see what people do with the nickel position now, and he has the frame to possibly be a safety or a nickel cornerback or even a nickel linebacker. Florida State is getting a really good athlete, and somebody who will continue to get better as he develops."