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The former Banks High School tight end is prepping for a big year at Eastern Washington.

COURTESY PHOTO: EWU ATHLETICS - Former Banks High School standout and current Eastern Washington University tight end Blake Gobel signals a touchdown during the Eagles' game with Montana last season.Time flies when you're having fun.

It's been just more than three years since Blake Gobel helped lead Banks to not one, not two, but three state championships as a member of the Braves' 2018/19 state title football, basketball, and baseball teams. Since he's spent those years earning academic and athletic honors as a student and football player at Eastern Washington University. But more recently he took an even more significant step — getting engaged.

The 21-year-old didn't have to stray too far from home to find his future bride, proposing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexicio this past June to his girlfriend of three years, Jackie Smith, a 2017 Banks High School graduate.

"That was a big deal," Gobel said. "It was pretty sweet."

Now, with the hard stuff behind him, the fourth-year-redshirt-sophomore tight end can continue preparing for the Eagles' upcoming season, one in which Gobel aims to be the starter in their season opener against Tennessee State University Sept. 3.

The 6-foot-6, 250-pounder was recently ranked No. 18 amongst all FCS tight ends by NCAAFNation247, and earned Big Sky Conference All-Academic honors following the 2020-21 season.

EWU starts their fall camp Aug. 5. Gobel said he — and the bulk of his teammates — have been working for the majority of the summer in anticipation of the coming year, and that this season will be bring both mystery and opportunity for players — like him — looking to make a mark.

"It's a little different this year because we lost a lot of dudes from last year's team," Gobel said. "So, I'm going in with a different mindset. It's time to prove myself at this level and I'm looking forward to doing that."

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Former Banks tight end Blake Gobel embraces Braves head coach Cole Linehan after winning the school's first ever state football championship in 2018.It's not as if he's been sitting idle. Gobel has played in 24 games over his first three years at EWU and started two of them, amassing 18 career catches for 249 yards and seven touchdowns. In years past, the tight end hasn't exactly been featured in the Eagles' offense, but Gobel said that could change with new offensive coordinator Jim Chapin.

Chapin comes to EWU after four seasons at the University of Sioux Falls where he most recently served as the associate head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. The 2021 season saw the Cougars finish 8-3 overall and win a Northern Sun Conference South Division title. Chapin led an offense that averaged 412.8 yards per game, along with 32.5 points per game and 6.2 yards per play.

Gobel said that while he'd welcome more passes his way, he has always and will continue to be about what's best for the team and most valuable in terms of getting wins.

"Our last OC (offensive coordinator) didn't utilize the tight ends too much, but I think we're going to get a lot more targets than we did last year, which is exciting," the tight end said. "I'm looking forward to that."

With that said, Gobel said he's happy with whatever he's asked to do and has begun to embrace the art of blocking.

"I love catching the ball and making plays, and the times I do get the ball I feel like I've done a pretty good job with that," Gobel said. "But I don't want to be one of those 'give me the ball type of guys,' I just try to do what's best for the team. I've really worked on my blocking technique and I'm continuing to try and improve it because it's very important when you're looking at going to the next level."

COURTESY PHOTO: EWU ATHLETICS - Former Banks High School standout and current Eastern Washington University tight end Blake Gobel seals the edge on a kick attempt during an Eagles' game last season.That next level is the NFL and despite the long odds that face any collegiate player trying to make the pros, Gobel feels he's got a shot if he dedicates himself to the work over the next year, two or three.

"These next few years are big, just to see where I can go and see where my potential can take me," he said. "I'm looking forward to showing my abilities, and whatever happens, happens. If it works out, great. But if not, I'm ready to move on with life and start a family someday."

Before that however he's got upwards of three more seasons to play in Cheney if he's so inclined, the first of which (2022) consists of road games at both the University of Florida of the powerhouse SEC, and the University of Oregon in Eugene. Gobel said he's excited for both and that he'll surely have a "pinch me" moment before or during those games.

"I'm really excited and it'll be quite the atmosphere at both of those places," Gobel said. "Those guys are the best of the best so it's going to be a challenge, but it'll be really cool to see what we can do against them."

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