Freedom's Blackwell charged after DUI arrest

Football coach Marquel Blackwell, 29, is 5-15 in two seasons at Freedom. He holds passing records at USF.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Football coach Marquel Blackwell, 29, is 5-15 in two seasons at Freedom. He holds passing records at USF.

TAMPA — Freedom football coach Marquel Blackwell, a former standout quarterback at USF and Dixie Hollins, was arrested early Monday morning in Tampa on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.

Blackwell, 29, was arrested by Tampa Police officers at 3:29 a.m. at the corner of Columbus Drive and Himes Avenue. According to the arrest report, after a traffic stop was conducted, Blackwell was asked to produce a drivers license. At that time, "he held out a blue Visa card."

Blackwell consented to field sobriety exercises, but "exhibited clues of impairment." He refused a blood alcohol test and was booked at 5:17 a.m. into the Orient Road jail. Blackwell, who was released Monday afternoon on $500 bond, could not be reached for comment.

Blackwell will not receive any discipline from the school district's Office of Professional Standards, Hillsborough County Schools spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said.

"It's a misdemeanor and it didn't involve any students," Cobbe said.

Blackwell's future at Freedom is likely to lie in the hands of principal Chris Farkas, Cobbe said. Blackwell, an in-school suspension instructor, is a temporary employee of the school district who works under a one-year contract.

"It's up to the principal," Cobbe said. "They can renew the contract for another year, make him permanent or not rehire him at all."

When reached Monday, Farkas declined to speculate about Blackwell's future. "The reality is I don't know any details," Farkas said. "For me to make a comment would be inappropriate. I don't know the details and I haven't talked to Coach Blackwell."

Blackwell is the leading passer in USF history after starting from 1999-2002. He holds the school record for career passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions and attempts.

Blackwell has been Freedom's head coach the past two seasons. He was 1-9 in 2007, but improved to 4-6 last fall as the Patriots won three of their last four games.

Freedom's Blackwell charged after DUI arrest 01/05/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 1:14pm]

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