SAN ANTONIO â€” Michael Harrison looks at Justin Blackmon and dreams about the possibilities. Blackmon had a breakout sophomore season for Oklahoma State, winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver while helping the Cowboys to a 10-2 record.
â€œI look up to Justin,â€ said Harrison, a redshirt freshman receiver from Atlanta, Texas. â€œI see what he does and I'm like â€˜Yeah, (I should do that).'â€
Heading into OSU's Alamo Bowl game against Arizona Wednesday, Harrison appears to be on a similar path to prominence.
Both receivers redshirted during their first year on campus but opened eyes with their talent. Blackmon stood out among redshirting freshmen in 2008, and Harrison was so impressive in 2009 that only nagging injuries kept him from playing his way out of redshirt season.
Blackmon showed signs of his game-breaking ability as a redshirt freshman, making clutch catches against Texas A&M and Colorado. Harrison is doing the same during his redshirt freshman campaign, making a key touchdown catch in OSU's road win at Kansas State when Blackmon was suspended for one game.
And now, he's starting to resemble Blackmon in another way: With his focus, commitment and desire.
â€œMike is starting to mature a little bit,â€ coach Mike Gundy said. â€œPlaying football at this level is so different from playing any other sport. It's a very demanding sport year-round, and you have to get in the right frame of mind. It takes a big commitment, and I think he's learning that.â€
His talent is unquestioned. At 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, Harrison brings a unique combination of size, speed and athleticism.
â€œMike is a big, physical receiver,â€ said Blackmon, who has 102 receptions for 1,665 yards and 18 touchdowns. â€œHe has great hands and he knows how to use his body well.â€
Said Gundy: â€œHe's got some great, raw talent that we are looking forward to tapping into in the next few years.â€
A former baseball player, Harrison began playing receiver when he stepped on OSU's campus after mainly playing quarterback in high school. He has raw receiving skills, but he's getting more comfortable at the position. Harrison has 14 catches for 135 yards and three touchdowns this season.
â€œI feel very comfortable at receiver,â€ Harrison said. â€œIt was a hard transition from quarterback to receiver, but (receivers) coach (Gunter) Brewer taught me the fundamentals and routes, and I've gotten used to it.â€
If he continues to mirror Blackmon's rise and applies himself this offseason, Harrison could become the â€œgo toâ€ guy if Blackmon decides to enter the NFL Draft, or become a lethal threat alongside Blackmon in the Pokes' 2011 offensive attack if Blackmon returns to Stillwater.
â€œWhen he wants to play, he shows up,â€ Blackmon said. â€œWhen he gets that mentality to keep playing ... every time he's out there to play the same way, he's going to be a really good player.â€