Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have an oil and water relationship when it comes to college football. Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon laughed off that rivalry when asked about possibly catching passes from St. Louis Rams quarterback and former Oklahoma standout Sam Bradford in the NFL.
"Sam is a great quarterback," Blackmon said of the former Sooner. "I'm sure we can put our differences aside."
He may not have much choice since the Rams reportedly consider Blackmon one of their top options in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Blackmon has been considered by many to be the top receiver available in the draft, but there is increasing room for debate on that topic. His draft stock took a slight hit at weigh-in, when he measured 6' 207 lbs, a full inch shorter than he was listed at Oklahoma State.
Asked about his height, Blackmon joked with the press. "I know you get shorter and shorter each year," he said.
Blackmon's work ethic on the field was no laughing matter, no surprise for the son of a military family. His father was sent to Kuwait when Blackmon was in the fifth grade.
"It was rough," Blackmon said about his father's deployment. "But growing up in a military home I knew that was his job and something he had to do. He never complained about it. He did what he had to do. As a family, we couldn't do much more than pray and hope that he would come back."
That sense of duty and the fighting spirit rubbed off on the younger Blackmon.
"I'm going to be somebody who is going to be out there fighting," he said. "I'm going to be working when no one is watching. I'm always going to be dependable and someone that you can count on."
Hearing Blackmon talk like that made for interesting juxtaposition when he compared himself to Terrell Owens. However, he cited Owens' work ethic and elite route running skills in the comparison, rather than the antics. Give the credit for not being a dummy.
"I'd like to look to be sort of like him [Owens] because his work ethic is real good and I like to work as hard as I can," Blackmon said. "The way he is as he plays. One person never brings him down and that's how I try to play.
"He's a little more crisp," he said of Owens' routes. "I know I have a lot to work on with route running. I am working on it continually. I know I have some work to do and I'm willing to do it."
Comparisons to Owens fueled another question about the fine line between confidence and demanding the ball, the fine line between diva and competitor that receivers have to walk.
"I think the position is such that if you don't ask for the ball, it may never come your way," Blackmon said. "You've got to throw it out there at some point. I lobbied a few times - when I felt like we weren't moving to ball so well. I said, ‘Just give it a shot at least.' After that shot, if it doesn't work, I don't say anything. But at least give it a try."
A 2010 DUI arrest could be a minor red flag for teams, teams that hold grudges against the indiscretion of youth. Blackmon has steered clear of any legal troubles since then.
The real test for Blackmon and his draft stock will be the forty-yard dash. He will forego that event, and most others, at the Combine because of a hamstring issue. Instead, he plans to run on the notoriously fast track in Stillwater at the Cowboys' March 9 pro day event. He said he would like to run a 4.2, but acknowledged that a 4.4 was more likely. Anything under 4.5 would secure his status among the top ten picks in the draft.
"I'm very confident," Blackmon said. "I know I have a lot to work on and I'm going to continue to work on that. I know with hard work I can be successful in this league."
That confidence will serve him well in the NFL, regardless of his quarterback's college background.