Justin Blalock: It's been getting a lot better. With those kind of things, it just takes time and rest, which is one thing I didn't have a lot of at the end of the season. After the bowl season, it finally got a chance to heal a little bit and getting back to where I need to be now.
DS: You made 50 straight starts at the University of Texas. Eere you ever close to sitting out?
JB: The closest was after I injured that knee. Fortunately for us, we had a bye week the following week, so I was able to come back and play our next game.
DS: What have you shows scouts that maybe they haven't seen on tape, and what have scouts been telling you?
JB: Fortunately for me, there's a whole lot of tape in college, so quite a bit of what I can do. The biggest thing that people mention to me is the versatility, the ability to play multiple positions along the line. I feel like I retain knowledge really quickly. We install a playbook that week, I feel I can pick it up really quickly. As far as on-the-field stuff, just continue to do what I've been doing for all these years. You're not four years at a top-tier program without some semblance of talent.
DS: Were you ever awestruck when you were dealing with an entire NFL staff at the Senior Bowl?
JB: There were a few instances of that. I was taken aback by different philosophies than the one I'm used to. It's really impressive to hear someone as passionate about the game as you are. I was expecting some pretty crazy questions in the interviewing process, but it really wasn't that bad.
DS: You played your last 27 games at Texas without giving up a sack. Do you recall the last time you gave one up?
JB: Yeah, it was my sophomore year against Kansas. The guy's name was Charlton Keith – might be in the league now. To be perfectly honest with you, I shouldn't even have been in the game. Two, three plays before that – maybe the series before that – someone rolled me up. And me being so stubborn, I didn't come out of the game. I paid for it there, just trying to be out there and be hardheaded and what-not. I paid for it that time. I've been very fortunate not to have any blunders since then.
DS: Can you talk about the communication that goes on with an offensive line, specifically when we see an O-lineman pointing at a defensive player?
JB: Usually, it's a gameplan thing. When he's pointing at a guy, that just gets everybody on the right page. That doesn't necessarily mean that's the guy we're going to block. Sometimes it's the guy the running back blocks. You never know. There are so many things that were built into our system that we had to be accountable for. It required a lot of communication. If you get a good, continual line. We weren't able to do as much this year because we were changing parts so often, but like the previous year where we had guys. I think we had the same starting five every game two years ago. I believe you get to a point where you can look at the guy next to you and you can say his name and he'll know exactly what you're thinking. So you don't have to make a bunch of calls because, believe it or not, those guys on defense can – if they hear one call enough – they can guess what you're going to to do.
DS: You played guard and tackle at Texas. What are teams telling you as far as your future position in the NFL?
JB: I think the majority opinion would be for me to play guard and in a pinch play tackle if something happens to a guy because of my body type. If that's what they're seeing, that's what I'm going to play. I think that's one of the advantages of having a player like myself. We're not limited to, well, you can only have that guy at one position, and if it doesn't work out, that's it. I can probably play all five positions right on down the line.
DS: It almost seems at times as though the three-month scouting period is almost as important as your four-year college career? Is that almost unfair?
JB: We were out here in our training basically getting ready for a track meet. There's little emphasis on actually playing football, just getting ready for these few drills and you kind of put football on the back burner for a couple of months. Tape is the most important, of course. They want to see how you play football, but that wasn't the focus of the last couple of months or so.
DS: When you first showed up at Athlete's Performance, did you wonder whether these exercises would be of any benefit?
JB: There was shock when we first got out there. I'm thinking, "We're going to be dog tired every day." It wasn't that bad, especially compared to college workouts where you come back to the locker room and you just wanted to lay down and take a nap. In the locker room, you see people sit on the floor and do whatever on the floor. You're doing it, too. You just want to lie down. You're not that tired when you do the stuff. It's not that incredible workload that you can't handle. It's just different things that you might not have worked on – probably wouldn't have worked on – in college. It taxes smaller muscle groups, and it's also some things that aren't necessarily brute strength like we did in college.
DS: You were chosen as the Offensive Lineman of the Year at Texas. What did that mean to you?
JB: It's really an honor any time that someone thinks that highly of you. It's really humbling because we had some great players on the offensive line there. And with the tradition of offensive linemen there, as well, it really means that much more.
DS: What current NFL player would you compare yourself to?
JB: Physically, maybe like a Steve Hutchinson. A guy that's got a thicker body. I don't really want to say that I play like anybody. Certainly I might look like a few guys, especially guys with a bigger trunk.
DS: It would be pretty good for you if your career turned out like Hutchinson's, wouldn't it?
JB: It certainly would. If it ended up anything like that, I'll be more than happy.
DS: What will the NFL team that drafts Justin Blalock be getting?
JB: Accountability, first and foremost. I'm going to do what I'm studying to do and what I'm supposed to do. I'm not going to have any off-the-field issues. A guy that's intelligent – high retention level. A guy that's a hard worker. Also, back at Texas, I won our strength and conditioning award twice. I'm going to do whatever it takes to be on the field and contribute, hopefully to a winning team.