by Kristin Watkins
Despite being the son of a Virginia football standout Tony Blount, the Cavaliers were not the first love for junior safety Joey Blount. Born in California, Blount actually grew up a USC Trojan fan and thought he would be going to college there.  

“Growing up, I loved football, but I was not necessarily into Virginia football,” Blount said. “I was a huge USC fan when we lived in California. I was the biggest Reggie Bush fan and the Matt Leinart era. I wore number five growing up, I wanted to be just like Reggie Bush and as I got older, I learned about other teams. That is when Alabama was coming up and other teams, but I was always a diehard USC Trojan. I wanted to be a Trojan for life.”

That dream changed when Blount’s life was uprooted from California to Atlanta, Ga., when he was nine years old and had just started taking up football.

“That experience was kind of eye opening, and honestly it was scary because I was so used to what I had in California and moving to a state I had only visited a couple of times with my family,” Blount said. “Restarting my life, new friends, new journey and new path it just scared me more so than excited me.”

Not only did he have a new lifestyle to adjust to, but there was a stark cultural difference between the two states.

“Going to Georgia, there is a lot of hospitality and manners you have to learn,” Blount said. “Southern hospitality is like no other, especially compared to the west coast where hospitality is not taught in the home as much. I had loose lips, I would say ignorant things like ‘yeah’ or ‘okay’ and in the south that is disrespectful, and I didn’t realize it. Moving to Georgia taught me a lot of manners and how to treat others. That experience was very life changing as well. The heat and humidity were a huge part of moving too. In California it was hot, but that air is easy to breathe. In Georgia, the humidity, you can feel the water vapor in the air and a lot of bugs and hot summers. There are a lot of southern things you have to get used to.”

That cross-country move played a huge role in Blount’s development as a person but also in his ability to fit in at Virginia right away.

“To come from the west coast and not knowing what I was getting into at Virginia, the transition would have been a lot different,” Blount said. “Virginia and Georgia are far, but the west coast and Virginia are two different atmospheres. The distance would have played a big role in how I would have been relocating and adjusting. Also, just how you treat people and the bipolar weather here is just like in Georgia. The intensity of the heat of the summer and the people around you, I think that helped me a lot.”

The decision to play at Virginia was purely his own, but Blount feels that it definitely made his father happy.

“The only influence he had was telling me I couldn’t go to Virginia Tech,” Blount said. “Other than that, he made it clear that this is my life and the journey he had is done so he wanted me to pick and choose where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. He told me not to think of him or include him in the decision, but I know deep down when I chose Virginia, he was very happy.”

The younger Blount has already started making a name for himself as a free safety for the Cavaliers. A position he has always excelled in, even though he wanted to be Reggie Bush.

“When I was younger, I played on both sides of the ball,” Blount said. “I would either play quarterback or running back, but on defense I always played safety. When my dad coached me, I always had a knack for the ball, so I was put in the back and found the ball wherever it was thrown. If they ran the ball, I had to go get it. When you are young you play a lot of positions, when I got older, I locked into playing safety.”

That position requires a lot of leadership and communications skills to make sure the entire defense knows what they are doing.

“It takes a lot of confidence in yourself,” Blount said. “Sometimes the calls you make aren’t the right calls, but if you are confident in what you call everyone else will be on the same page as you. I would rather everyone be on the same page than the wrong page. The leadership aspect, you have to take charge of what you are doing out there and you have to keep people accountable and if something goes wrong you have to take it on yourself. Back there at safety, you have to make the calls, you are really quarterbacking the defense and the calls you make are going to put people in positions, right or wrong, so it just takes a lot of confidence and leadership.”

That leadership on the field has helped the UVA defense become one of the best in the Atlantic Coast Conference, as they rank second only behind Clemson in points allowed. He also enjoys using his leadership and communication skills off the football field, admitting that he really likes to talk.

“I am majoring in American Studies and I have a minor in women and gender studies,” Blount said. “I want to do something with people, like marketing and talking. I enjoy talking and socializing. I think American Studies helped me choose my path. I am also minoring in gender studies because I want to advocate for the community and gender roles and equality. I think it is important in our decade now that we do that.”

Even though Blount did not see himself at Virginia originally, little moments in his life, like moving from one coast to another, led to one of the best decisions he feels he could have made.

“If I didn’t move to Georgia, I was planning on going to USC,” Blount said. “God has ways of working mysteriously in your life and I am glad I ended up here. I have had the best time of my life. I can’t remember a time I have grown closer to people and I have made friends that will last my whole life. Playing football at a level that people are recognizing us, I don’t think we let that recognition get to us. We are hungry and we want more. Football here is just getting going. The people here are great and the town I love. I couldn’t ask for a better experience.”