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OSU's Justin Blackmon wears a hardhat

BY JOHN HELSLEY, Staff Writer, jhelsley@opubco.com Published: August 24, 2011

Justin Blackmon, operating as a decoy, hooks up with a linebacker, scrapping and blocking to the whistle and beyond, clearing a crease for freshman receiver Josh Stewart to slip through for a nice gain.

Next snap, Blackmon drives a shoulder into a defensive back, well downfield on a running play.

It's practice.

Blackmon might be Oklahoma State's magazine and media guide cover boy, but he's no pretty boy. The 2010 Biletnikoff Award winner made his way here – from off the map to top of the charts – by working.

And he's not about to relax now.

“Every day, Blackmon comes out and grinds,” said Cowboys offensive coordinator Todd Monken. “He's a great player, but he's not a prima donna.

“He doesn't act like he's ‘arrived' at all. He acts like he wants to get better. And he will.”

Better? Better than 148.5 receiving yards per game, which led the nation? Better than his school-record 20 touchdowns and 111 catches? Better than his 1,782 yards, the sixth-best receiving season in NCAA history?

Better than All-American? And Biletnikoff winner?

“There's always room for improvement, no matter where you're at,” Blackmon said. “This summer, I just basically tried to strip down and work on everything little by little, explosion and catching the ball…

“There's a lot of things to work on.”

So Blackmon works.

At blocking. At fighting through defenders at the line. At creating a better burst. At route running, which scouts say may be his lone weakness.

“I can see him becoming a better player,” said Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden. “He's running better routes. He's continuing to work. He's getting faster and stronger. He's doing all the things to put himself in position to have better numbers.”

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