JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Four years younger than his brother, Justin Blackmon spent much of his childhood getting knocked around.
On the football field. On the basketball court. In the living room.
Then Blackmon hit the weight room. And things changed dramatically.
Blackmon bulked up, surpassed his brother athletically and eventually became one of the best receivers in college football. The Jacksonville Jaguars traded up two spots to select the 6-foot-1, 207-pound Blackmon with the fifth pick in the NFL Draft Thursday night, potentially giving them a playmaking receiver for the first time in years.
Blackmon's turning point came back when he was a junior at Plainview High School in Ardmore. After years of prodding from his brother, Blackmon finally started lifting weights. Blackmon didn't notice much difference early on, but his brother, Warren, sure did. Warren returned home from a semester at Prairie View A&M University and found his younger sibling transformed.
“I was shocked,” Warren Blackmon said Friday. “We both could dunk, but when I come home to watch him play games, he'd do like a windmill dunk, a 360 dunk. I was never able to do any of that.”
Blackmon has been impressing people ever since, in high school and at Oklahoma State.
He really caught Jacksonville's attention. The Jaguars gave up a fourth-round pick to move into position to draft Blackmon.
“He's a football player,” new coach Mike Mularkey said. “There's not one particular thing he does better than the other. He's a complete player, does it all, unselfish in everything he does. I know our team's going to be excited about having him, not just on the field but in the locker room.”
The franchise's fan base celebrated wildly Thursday night, raising expectations for the team's highest draft pick since selecting linebacker Kevin Hardy second overall in 1996.
“No pressure, not at all,” Blackmon said. “It's still football. This is what I've been doing for a while. When you start thinking about pressure and everything, you're not thinking about the game. I like to focus on what I can focus on and that's playing football.”
Owner Shad Khan sent a private plan to New York on Friday morning to pick up Blackmon, his brother, sister and parents. They arrived in Jacksonville around lunchtime, toured the facility and were officially introduced.
Blackmon spent a few minutes with quarterback Blaine Gabbert, met with coaches and got his first look at the playbook.
“I'm just anxious and ready to get in there and see what I can get into,” Blackmon said.
Blackmon caught 122 passes for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Cowboys last season. He had 111 receptions for 1,782 yards and 20 scores the previous year. Big, strong and physical, Blackmon could be just what the Jaguars need to bolster the league's worst offense.
“Throwing to elite receivers is easy because they're very talented,” Gabbert said.
Also Friday, the Jaguars waived six players, including running back Deji Karim, who played at Putnam City North High School, according to the Florida Times-Union.
Karim, a sixth-round pick in the 2010 draft, had a promising rookie season when he averaged 25.0 yards per kick return. He had 63 carries for 130 yards, an average of only 2.1 yards per carry, last season and his longest kick return was 37 yards.