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Ross Blacklock just couldn’t follow in his father’s Globetrotters footsteps

TCU defensive lineman Ross Blacklock runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine in February.
(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

The Times examines the top prospects ahead of the NFL draft, to be held April 23-25.

Jimmy Blacklock was a trailblazer and a Globetrotter, the second African American to play basketball at the University of Texas in the early 1970s and a standout point guard and dazzling dribbler for Harlem’s barnstorming basketball team from 1974 to 1987.

His son, Ross Blacklock, a Texas Christian defensive tackle who is expected to be a late first-round pick in the NFL draft, played some hoops in high school in Missouri City, Texas, but he never desired to follow in the footsteps of his acclaimed father.

“I always used to foul out of basketball games,” Blacklock, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound junior, said at the NFL combine in February. “I’d come off football season and go straight to basketball. Sometimes I’d be too aggressive, and I was like, ‘Dang, this is just too soft for me.’

“It’s a good sport, and I’m glad I got into it, but I just like the physicality of football, the hitting, the strength, the power, everything you have to put into it. You’ve got to be tough.”

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The Times examines the top prospects ahead of the 2020 NFL draft, to be held April 23-25.

Blacklock, who was also on the baseball, track and field, and swimming teams in high school, said his father “never really pushed me to be a basketball player.” Football, which he began playing at age 5, “is my first love,” he said.

The two have been inseparable except for one seven-month stretch in 2018. After starting 14 games, recording 27 tackles (6½ for loss) and two sacks, and earning freshman All-American honors at TCU in 2017, Blacklock tore his left Achilles during a noncontact drill the following summer and missed his entire sophomore season.

“It was kind of rough at first, but I just had that mindset that you have to go through something to get back to where you want to be,” Blacklock said. “You can’t mope around or be sad or mad at the world.”

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Blacklock dedicated himself to his rehabilitation program and a new diet, scrapping the candy and fruit juices he craved and adding more lean proteins and vegetables. He went from 330 pounds as a freshman to 315 pounds during the year he lost to injury to a leaner and more muscular 290 pounds last season.

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He returned to the practice in seven months, two months quicker than expected, and was clearly at full strength for a 2019 season in which he had 40 tackles (nine for loss) and 3½ sacks in 12 starts and earned first-team All-Big 12 honors.

Blacklock, who can play tackle or nose, had a good showing at the combine, with a 4.9-second 40-yard dash and 29-inch vertical leap. He’s a relentless pass rusher with elite lateral quickness, though his technique and hand usage need work. He has shown good rushing instincts.

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“I haven’t had a problem with my Achilles since the day I tore it,” Blacklock said. “It hasn’t been an issue — no setbacks, nothing. … I’m not an injury-prone dude. If you’re coming into the NFL, you can’t have a list of injuries. Fortunately, I have only the one.”


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