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Cowboys' Justin Blackmon plays bigger than he is

Former OSU star Dez Bryant predicted that Blackmon ‘is going to be really good'
by Jenni Carlson Published: December 7, 2011

Dez Bryant made the prediction between lifts.

It was the fall of 2008, and the Oklahoma State receiver was in the middle of a monster season. But one day in the weight room, he pronounced greatness on another Cowboy.

“Coach, you see that guy, that freshman over there?” he said to strength and conditioning guru Rob Glass. “He's going to be unbelievable.”

Glass looked at the kid, lanky and skinny.

“What're you talking about?” Glass asked.

“I'm telling you,” Bryant insisted, “that guy is going to be really good.”

That guy was Justin Blackmon.

On the day Blackmon is likely to win back-to-back Biletnikoff awards, it's amazing how far he's come. He's gone from lightly heralded recruit to widely celebrated star. He's transformed from a self-proclaimed scrawny, weak freshman into a beast.

It goes beyond his 1,336 yards receiving and 15 touchdown catches this season, beyond the 3,000-plus yards he's amassed during these past two seasons.

It is how he plays. He dominates defenders. He towers over tacklers. He looks larger than life.

Or at least bigger than 6-foot-1, 215 pounds.

“Everybody says that,” Cowboy receivers coach Kasey Dunn said. “I'll have friends that call me and say, ‘What is he? 6-4?'”

Dunn chuckled.

“He's no taller than I am. Boy, he plays like he's about a foot taller.”

How did he do it, transforming himself and becoming the beast?

For starters, Blackmon never lacked for confidence. He was only 4 years old when he first started playing sports. He played mostly youth league sports while his family was living in California, and when the Blackmons moved to Oklahoma, he started playing on traveling teams and more competitive squads.

Regardless of the level or the stakes, Blackmon always wanted to win.

He is hard-wired to be competitive.

“I think that's just a part of who he is,” said Terry Henley, the primary academic counselor for the football team. “He's just one of those kids.”

That competitiveness showed when Blackmon led Plainview High to never-before-seen heights. He refused to let the team lose in the state quarterfinals, an overtime victory against a storied Seminole program that he sealed with an interception in the end zone.

That competitiveness showed as soon as Blackmon arrived at OSU. Even in his first year on campus, toiling on the scout team and facing off against future pros Jacob Lacey and Perrish Cox, Blackmon went hard every play, every day.

He had the tenacity to succeed.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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