Little was expected of Justin Blackmon when he was coming out of high school. He did not have exceptional size, strength or athleticism, and Rivals thought of him as a three-star recruit during his senior year at Plainview High School in Ardmore Oklahoma.
Standing 6-foot-1 and tipping in at 215-pounds, Blackmon will not shock anyone with his physical gifts. But what he has done in his time at Oklahoma St. is nothing short of amazing in today's wide world of recruiting. Kids in their early teens are tabbed as the next great player of their generation, and many of them often live up to the hype.
For example, Julio Jones and AJ Green headlined the high school class of 2008 and were touted as one of the greatest pairs of receivers to emerge together. Both became top ten draft picks and are now tearing up NFL secondaries. Justin Blackmon was part of that high school class, as well, but his ranking was somewhere closer to 100th.
His emergence into a potential top-ten selection was not as obvious as that of Jones or Green, but it is no less real.
He emerged late in his senior year at Plainview, racking up more than 1,500 yards and 14 scores in his final prep year. Oklahoma St. took notice of the in-state product, and he committed without taking a visit to any other school. Colorado, Mizzou and Northern Iowa were the only other schools to even make him an offer, so he was presumably more than happy to take the offer from the Cowboys.
He has to redshirt in his first year on campus, as making the jump from small school to major college program. But when he got his chance to play in his second year on campus, he begun to show flashes of the talent that got him to Stillwater in the first place. He led all freshman for the 'Boys with 20 catches for 260 yards and a pair of score. But this was just the beginning for Blackmon.
His redshirt sophomore season was his real coming out party. Think about the numbers that he put up: 12 games. 111 receptions. 1,782 receiving yards. 20 touchdowns. He had at least 100 yards in every single game that Ok. State played. He had at least a touchdown in every game as well. Justin clearly learnt a thing or two from Dez Bryant about how to be a dominant mixture of possession receiver and downfield threat.
Blackmon set school records for receptions and touchdowns in a season, and he had the sixth best season in NCAA history for a wideout. Simply gaudy numbers for a receiver that was largely unheralded coming into college.
The consensus last year was that he would declare for the draft, and find himself taken in the first round sometime after AJ Green (4th) and Jones (6th), and around the same time as Jonathan Baldwin (26th). But he shocked many when he announced that he would return to school. But it may have been a wise move. He is having another stellar season, and is poised to make himself a top ten, perhaps even top five pick in the draft.
Alshon Jeffery from South Carolina is also highly regarded in this class, but we will wait until the combine to see who has the upper hand in terms of the elite receivers of this class.
At this point, Blackmon would be a great fit on any team that takes him. He could line up opposite Steve Smith in Carolina. Or he could be the first thing to resemble a servicable wideout in Jacksonville since Jimmy Smith. Or Minnesota, Seattle or Denver. Any team would be happy to have him at this point.
Without Blackmon the Cowboys would not be 9-0. They would not be in contention to play in a big time BCS bowl, and possibly even the national championship game. Without him, they don't win that crazy game against Kansas State. With the Sooners all-star receiver Ryan Broyles out with an ACL injury, Blackmon is now the top talent in the state, and possibly the nation.
If Blackmon had declared for the draft in 2011, the St Louis Rams would have been sorely tempted to take him at pick #14, pairing him with Sam Bradford and Josh McDaniels. Erik Galko of Optimum Scouting sees that match finally coming together (at pick #3) in his early 2012 Mock Draft. It might have taken a year longer, but Blackmon could soon be tearing up the same NFL secondaries as Green and Jones, forming a wave of new WR talent.
|Like TGS on Facebook||Follow TGS on Twitter|