Former college teammates, now Raiders, Saeed Blacknall and Jason Cabinda take next step of football careers together

Jason Cabinda says the moment happened at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis; Saeed Blacknall says it happened even before then.

Regardless of the timing, the sentiment remains the same, the former Penn State Nittany Lions called it months ago – they were going to take the next step of their careers together.

"We just knew it," said Cabinda. "We just knew it. Just the way stuff shakes out with me and Saeed, this stuff just always happens. We're just used to it."

"We called it not only at the Combine, we called it back in school," added Blacknall. "I called it in front of everybody, I said 'watch, we're going to end up on the same team.' We had such a strong class, Saquon [Barkley] and all them, we had at least a 15-player pro day, so we said, 'yeah, we're going to end up on the same team."

And for a pair of guys who were not only born on the exact same day (March 17, 1996), but grew up less than forty miles apart from each other in New Jersey, played college football together, and also share an agent, it really does make all the sense in the world that they'd end up playing on the same NFL team.

Not only that, but the pair squared off twice in the New Jersey high school playoffs – they split the series 1-1, by the way.

Their respective journeys to the Oakland Raiders active roster were equally challenging; neither were drafted, and both spent the first portion of their rookie seasons on the team's practice squad, patiently waiting for their numbers to get called.

Cabinda was up first, getting promoted to the active roster October 16, and after Blacknall earned his spot on the 53 earlier this week, both have now reached the next landmark in their careers – together.

"It's been huge," Cabinda said of having Blacknall in the locker room. "It would have been way harder, especially the fact that we were in the same situation, both being on practice squad, things like that. It's huge, and being able to throw things, and bounce things back and forth between each other, keep our heads where they need to be, pick each other up when we need it, and all those kinds of things."

During the first few months of their careers in Silver and Black, Blacknall said that while he and Cabinda were indeed roommates at the team hotel, their main goal wasn't spending quality time together, it was getting the playbook down, and making it to training camp.

"When you come here, all you're trying to do is dial in, and just be a receiver," Blacknall explained. "He [Cabinda] was trying to be a linebacker and increase his role here. Throughout OTAs it was like, we were talking, but we were into the playbook because we were roommates too at the hotel. It was right to the playbook, right to sleep, back to work, so once we got settled and we knew how the routine was and everything, we got our feet under us, we were like cool, and now we hang out all the time, but at first, it was like, 'bro, we have to make it.' We're out grinding right now so we can continue to be in the same locker room."

Cabinda made his NFL debut Week 8 against the Indianapolis Colts, and while we're unclear whether Blacknall will join him on the All-Time Raiders list – it could indeed be this Sunday in Arizona, we'll just have to wait and see – whenever that moment does come, it'll be a memorable one for the pair.

"I know it'll be a very, very humbling moment, just to think of how far we've come and stuff like that," Cabinda said.

"It's going to be a magical moment," added Blacknall. "It's something we dreamed about, and we didn't dream it like this, but it's going to be wonderful. It's going to be a dream come true for both of us."

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