NASHVILLE – Khari Blasingame caught some eyes during his Pro Day at Vanderbilt back in March, and it earned him a conversation with Titans head coach Mike Vrabel.
Blasingame, signed to the Titans' 53-man roster earlier this week, had just finished his work inside Vanderbilt's indoor practice field when Vrabel crossed the practice field and approached the versatile running back.
"I remember that," Blasingame said this week, "and that was cool for him to come talk to me. It made me feel good – he told me I did a good job, and that was fun. It was a good thing to happen."
The Titans didn't end up picking Blasingame in the NFL Draft, as the team addressed other needs instead. Blasingame went undrafted, and he ended up signing a contract with the Minnesota Vikings in May.
It would be his new home for seven months.
But Blasingame never went off of Tennessee's radar, and when the team saw an opportunity to bring him aboard earlier this week, they signed him to the roster – and off Minnesota's practice squad.
"He's a guy that we scouted and looked at coming out of Vanderbilt," Vrabel said of Blasingame, a 6-foot, 233-pounder. "Things didn't work out the first time around in the draft, so we continued to monitor him, look, and try to see where he could help us. So, excited to get him some work. He'll play fullback, he'll play tailback, he'll play on special teams. We'll kind of see what role he carves out for himself."
Already the team has thrown Blasingame into the mix in practices.
"Just coming out (of college) I thought he was a good runner, and he had that combo where he could be a big back, but he ran a 4.5 or something like that, so he is a fast guy, too," Titans running backs coach Tony Dews said of Blasingame. "But he also does have the size that would allow him to fit in that fullback role we were looking for to help bring some versatility from that regard.
"Now, you just throw him into the fire. He is willing and anxious to learn. The benefit to us is he if coming from an offensive system in Minnesota that is pretty similar to what we do, so that helps."
Outfitted in No.41, Blasingame worked in running back drills on Wednesday alongside backs Derrick Henry, Dion Lewis and Dalyn Dawkins, who is on the team's practice squad.
At Vanderbilt, Blasingame rushed for 401 yards and five touchdowns on 96 attempts while adding 25 receptions for 320 yards and a score in his final season with the Commodores, in 2018. Blasingame set a career receiving high in the Texas Bowl, posting 85 receiving yards against Baylor, and he carried the ball a career-high 20 times for 70 yards and a touchdown while adding a career-high six receptions and 62 receiving yards in the Commodores' 38-13 win over Tennessee last November.
Blasingame played in 43 games and totaled 997 rushing yards (238 attempts) with 15 touchdowns on the ground in his collegiate career at Vanderbilt, and he recorded 35 receptions for 380 yards and two touchdown grabs.
"I spent five years here at Vandy, so I am glad to be back and hope to contribute," he said. "Of course, I want to contribute on special teams, that would be huge. And on offense just finding a role where they need me – fullback, tailback, pass protection, whatever I can do. I'd love to do what I can to help the team."
Even before this week, Blasingame had put on Titans gear before.
He was among the group of players who took part in the team's local visit day at Saint Thomas Sports Park leading up to the draft.
This time, though, it's different. He's preparing to play on Sunday against the Jaguars, hoping he'll get his first action of the regular season in the city where he played his college ball.
In the preseason, Blasingame ran for 20 yards and a touchdown on eight carries with the Vikings and he also had eight catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns.
"At the end of the day it is a great opportunity back in Nashville, with a good team fighting for a playoff spot, so I had to come try and get after it," Blasingame said.
"It's everybody's dream to play on Sunday, so I am really excited. I am really just trying to learn as fast as I can."