Ronald Blair III has built up quite the career since his playing days as a Greene County Tiger 10 years ago. He graduated college, was drafted into the National Football League (NFL) and was on a team that made a Super Bowl appearance.
Now, his journey continues with the New York Jets as they announced their signing of Blair on June 1, 2021.
Though Blair’s latest move has landed him approximately 840 miles away from his hometown, Blair stated via a June 1 Facebook post that he was excited for the opportunity.
“Whether I’m here for one day, 100 days, etc., you’re gonna get everything I possibly have,” Blair said. “I don’t take this opportunity for granted, and I’m thrilled to get to work! Go J-E-TS!!!”
Upon his graduation from Greene County High School in 2011, Blair committed to Appalachian State University. The commitment came off his senior season at GCHS where he recorded 112 tackles, nine sacks and a 70-yard pick six. Those statistics earned Blair the Region 4-AA Defensive Player of the Year.
Blair picked up right where he left off the next five years as a Mountaineer.
During his college career, Blair started 51 games. In those games, Blair recorded 221 tackles, 53.5 tackles for loss, 21 sacks, four fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and had a pick six.
Blair earned a few accolades along the way, too.
He was selected to the second team All-Sun Belt team his redshirt junior season and made the first team All-Sun Belt team his final season. In 2011, he was recognized as the NCAA Division I FCS Freshman All-America honor from the College Sports Journal along with the Southern Conference All-Freshman team.
After graduating from Appalachian State in 2016 with a degree in health promotion, Blair set his sights on the NFL.
He went to the NFL combine to showcase his talents along with his alma mater’s pro day.
With his stellar performance as a Mountaineer merged with his combine and pro day presentation, an NFL team drafted him.
The San Francisco 49ers selected him in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft (142nd overall pick).
It didn’t take long for Blair to make his presence known on the big stage.
Blair made his NFL debut on Sept. 6, 2016 versus the Los Angeles Rams. He went on to appear in all 16 games of his rookie season.
Blair’s first professional sack came on a combined sack on Dallas Cowboy quarterback Dak Prescott on Oct. 2, 2016. His first full sack came six games later versus the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 27, 2016.
The first start of Blair’s career didn’t come until his second season when the 49ers played the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 5, 2017. The next week, on Nov. 12, 2017, featured Blair’s first multi-sack game versus the New York Giants when Blair sacked two-time Super Bowl Winner Eli Manning twice.
It was in the course of his third season when Blair seemed to hit his stride.
He set single-season career highs by recording 5.5 sacks and 36 tackles. He also reported a single-game career high against the Rams with six tackles on Dec. 30, 2018.
2019 featured another ‘first’ for Blair’s career.
When the 49ers played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 8, 2019, Blair gathered a fumble making it his first career fumble recovery.
At the end of his third season, the 49ers made it to the Super Bowl where they lost 31-20 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Blair wasn’t able to participate in the Super Bowl because he was placed on the injured reserve list on Nov. 13, 2019. As a result, Blair missed all of the 2020 season.
The 49ers, then, cut Blair in mid-March 2021.
Following the announcement, Blair made a statement on his Facebook. He stressed that he was grateful for the chance the 49ers gave him.
“I’m thankful for all the amazing people I’ve encountered because of that opportunity, and the amazing teammates I’ve had the honor of taking the field with during that time,” Blair said.
Approximately three months later, the Jets announced that they signed the former Greene County Tiger. New York won’t be a town full of total strangers, though. Blair’s former defensive coordinator in San Francisco, Robert Saleh is now the head coach of the Jets.
So, Blair will be arriving at a defensive system he is familiar with.
Despite all of the twists and turns his career has taken, Blair hasn’t forgotten about Greensboro.
In 2019 and this year, he hosted a free youth football camp at Tiger Stadium for children grades 3-12. Blair still regularly volunteers with the Greene County Relay for Life.
Sometime in the future, Blair aspires to begin his own foundation that would create a community for people going through life-changing experiences.
Blair recognizes that it’s been the support of family and friends back home that’s made his life what it is today. From day one until now, Blair said it’s been a ‘blessing’ knowing so many people are in his corner cheering him on.
That’s why he’s dedicated to giving back to the community who poured into his life.
And, regardless of the career move to New York, Blair said he plans to continue giving back to Greene County.
“I’m not done giving back to Greene County,” Blair told The Lake Oconee News. “I want to continue to help give back to the kids and give them a few tools. Because, most of the time, it’s about working smarter not harder. I’m just thankful to be able to do that.”