Reed Blankenship of Middle Tennessee State Named 2021 Recipient of C.R. Bickerstaff / Bill Pace Scholar-Athlete Award
The C.R. Bickerstaff / Bill Pace University Scholar-Athlete Award is presented to the top university football scholar-athlete in the Middle Tennessee area based on scholarship, sportsmanship, and value to the team. Bickerstaff was a longtime executive secretary of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Pace was a former head coach at Vanderbilt University.
Blankenship, an outstanding safety, was the epitome of a true student-athlete throughout his college career. He was voted a three-time permanent captain by his teammates, which is considered the highest honor for a Blue Raiders player. It illustrated, more than anything else, the high regard Blankenship’s teammates had for him.
Blankenship will be remembered as one of MTSU’s greatest defensive players of all-time. He set the program record for career tackles with 419. He also had nine career interceptions. As a senior Blankenship had 110 total tackles. That was 20 more than the next leading tackler on the team. Blankenship also was an inspiration to his teammates because of his hard work in the weight room. He was awarded the squad’s Ironman of the Year after leading the team with 1,030 snaps played in 2021.
He was a three-time All-Conference USA player who was on the Bednarik Award and Jim Thorpe Award watch lists in his junior and senior seasons. He was invited to play in the 2022 East-West Shrine Game and on the Senior Bowl Watch List. Blankenship helped lead MTSU to a 7-6 record in 2021, which included a 31-24 win over Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl.
Blankenship maintained a 3.3 grade point average, made the Conference USA All-Academic Team and was a Senior Class Award candidate as a senior. He was a nominee for the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team.