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The NFL Draft Game Changer: Justin Blackmon

Top NFL Draft prospect Justin Blackmon talks his pro potential, as well as his gamer skills.

There are, perhaps, few events in sports as hyped as the annual NFL Draft, and this year marks no exception. The hoopla over the top pick now begins and ends with Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who is all but guaranteed to go to the now Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts. At pick two, the Washington Redskins traded up with a specific player in mind, that being Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III (aka, RG3).

TEAM GHOST Blackmon is a "speed guy" in the gaming world, too. As a member of Team Ghost, he bring his speed and communication skills to Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Aside from taking names (i.e., defensive backs) on the football field, Blackmon also enjoys taking names on the video game screen. He is currently part of “Team Ghost,” a promotional team for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, which also includes NBA star Kevin Love, reality TV starlet Coco (Ice-T’s wife) and emerging rapper Kendrick Lamar. Every member of Team Ghost has a special skill. Blackmon’s? “I’m the speed guy,” he said. “Quick on my feet, constantly communicating, first guy to the checkpoint.” The description also seems fitting for Blackmon’s prospective NFL career, so expect to see him cross the checkpoint (i.e., end zone) on a fairly regular basis.

After that, things gets a little more uncertain. There’s a blue chip offensive lineman in USC tackle Matt Kalil, a blue chip cornerback in LSU’s Morris Claiborne, and a blue chip running back in Alabama’s Trent Richardson. The possibilities are endless as trade rumors continue to swirl around, which could further shake up this draft. Heading this year’s wide receiver class is Oklahoma State University’s Justin Blackmon, a two-time Biletnikoff award winner (for the nation’s best wide receiver) coming off an MVP performance (186 yards, 3 touchdowns) in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl. Blackmon’s been waiting patiently for draft day to come, trying to maintain tunnel vision while football mock draft wizards attempt to forecast his ultimate landing spot. “I try to phase it out; focus on controlling the things I can control,” Blackmon tells Men's Fitness. “These past couple of months have been pretty busy, all business and meetings. I just try to keep the right people around me and stay grounded.” Blackmon left an impressive mark on his college career, compiling two of the finer wide receiver seasons in recent NCAA history, while following in the footsteps of fellow OKU pass catching phenom Dez Bryant. Coming out of a big program like Oklahoma State, Blackmon now plans to segue his rapid-fire collegiate success into an illustrious pro career. “I think I’ve made tremendous gains from when I first got to [OKU] to now,” says Blackmon. “I got better each year with hard work, and the coaches there really prepare you, not only for success in football, but life in general.” Speculation on where Blackmon ends up may be a little fuzzy, but one certainty is his tough demeanor on the field. The 6'1", 207-lb. wideout has been compared to current NFL stars like Anquan Boldin of the Baltimore Ravens and Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants, due to his compact frame and ability to beat defenders for yards after the catch. The comparisons are well received by Blackmon. “Those guys are great receivers to be compared to, I’m happy to be put in that category,” he says. “I’m a physical guy, just trying to do as much as I can to beat the person across from me.” To obtain and maintain his high level of physicality, Blackmon has been working out on a strict schedule during the offseason, while getting as many reps in during the hectic final push to Draft Day. “Been working out three to four times a week, weightlifting, running, running routes, whatever I can do to stay in shape,” explains Blackmon. “You got to put in the hours to be successful. It take a lot of hard work; nothing comes easy. “ No matter what team calls Blackmon’s name on Draft Day, it’s clear his services will be needed right out of the gate, in what has become an extremely pass happy NFL over the past few years. With passing records being broken and more teams implementing spread offenses, Blackmon will benefit from his ability to line up anywhere as a receiver, taking advantage of match-ups with his physicality and quickness. “I want to utilize my skills,” Blackmon says. “I want to learn as much as possible so I can play as many spots as possible. The more versatile you are, the better you can ultimately be.”

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