Former Avon Grove running back Blyden transfers to Camden Catholic

After a regional panel denied a petition for a transfer to District 12's Cardinal O'Hara from District 1's Avon Grove, standout running back J.T. Blyden has decided to enroll at Camden Catholic.

"I was pretty disappointed about the ruling, but I'm excited about going to Camden Catholic," said the 5-foot-11, 196-pound junior, who plans to register at his new school Thursday morning and begin practicing with the Fighting Irish.

In 10 games last season at Avon Grove, the speedy Blyden, who has scholarship offers from Rutgers and Massachusetts, carried 221 times for 1,127 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Cardinal O'Hara, on behalf of Blyden, lost the regional-panel hearing, made up of District 1 and 12 committee members, last month.

An appeal by Cardinal O'Hara to the PIAA had been set for Friday, but, according to John Blyden, J.T.'s father, the school "decided against going through with it."

Camden Catholic will be Blyden's third school in as many years. The 16-year-old spent his first year at Bishop Shanahan.

"He wanted to go back to a Catholic-faith institution," John Blyden said. "J.T. could have gone anywhere, and Cardinal O'Hara is where he really wanted to go. Everything just turned ugly."

Cardinal O'Hara lost the regional-panel hearing by a 3-3 vote (a tie goes against the petitioning school). "We didn't know about the hearing until the day before," John Blyden said. "We had to go in there on the fly."

Blyden, who plays safety on defense and is a dangerous kick returner, has also received recruiting interest from Penn State, Michigan, and South Carolina.

To immediately play in games for Camden Catholic, Blyden must first, per NJSIAA rules, prove a "bona fide" change of residence. If not, he would be ineligible for a period of 30 calendar days.

Camden Catholic is coached by former St. Joseph's Prep boss Gil Brooks. He went 10-1 in his first season with the squad.

-Rick O'Brien