On Saturday, April 27, former University of Missouri tight end and Blue Springs South graduate Kendall Blanton was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Los Angeles Rams.
But there was still one last thing he wanted to do before he traveled to Los Angeles for rookie mini-camp.
He went to the house of former Blue Springs South boys basketball coach Jimmy Cain’s to give him something special. It was a game-worn jersey from Mizzou and on the back of it, he wrote, “Thank you for everything!” and signed it.
“It’s a high character MAN that thinks of knocking on his hs hoops coach’s door the day after signing with the @RamsNFL just to give him this gift and say thanks. I will bet on you, @TheKspecial_, not only on your fb journey but the rest of your life! Love You!” Cain tweeted.
Blanton reciprocated similar feelings for Cain.
“Coach Cain and I had debates about who was the greatest basketball player of all time, Lebron (James) or (Michael) Jordan,” Blanton said. “I was on the Lebron side and he thought Jordan was better. He’s been a big part of my life, and I wanted to do something for him. That’s why I gave him the jersey. He was a big influence on me.”
Blanton said he won’t forget what Cain or any other coach did for him at Blue Springs South as he heads into rookie mini-camp for the Rams. Blanton will have the opportunity to make the Rams’ roster this weekend.
“Thank you Jesus, all I ever wanted was a chance...blessed to be a part of the organization and ready to WORK,” Blanton tweeted on April 28.
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end didn’t put up flashy numbers at Mizzou but has shown potential to be a solid NFL tight end. Mostly known for his blocking, Blanton caught 22 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns this past season. He had 44 catches for 476 yards and six touchdowns during his college career.
“I had a great time at Mizzou,” Blanton said. “I made a lot of friends there and it was an experience I will never forget. We didn’t get the result we wanted in the Liberty Bowl (a 38-33 loss to Oklahoma State), but I was still happy with the way I closed out my career.”
Blanton said the Rams called him shortly after the NFL draft ended to sign him. He said he thought he had a chance to be drafted but was glad to get a chance any way he could.
He had a strong showing at the NFL Combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.95 seconds, having 22 repetitions on the bench press, had a 31-inch vertical jump, a 113-inch broad jump, he completed the three-cone drill in 7.37 seconds, finished the 20-yard shuttle in 4.42 seconds and completed the 60-yard shuttle in 12.28 seconds.
“I did OK at the Combine, but not as good as I wanted,” Blanton said. “Most of what scouts look at is game film.”
Now, the goal for Blanton is to make the roster in anyway he can, and join his father Jerry Blanton, a linebacker who played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1979 to 1985.
“I am excited to go to Los Angeles and work with (Los Angeles head) Coach (Sean) McVay,” Blanton said. “I would love the opportunity to play with the defending NFC champions. I am blessed to have the opportunity and I am going to do everything I can to make the team.”