The Pittsburgh Steelers signed 6-foot 6-inch wide receiver Issac Blakeney to a contract in hopes of the team possibly finding a diamond in the proverbial rough of the NFL. A loyal BTSC reader, and now contributor, Kelly A (@kanozie80) got in touch with the big wide out to talk about his approach to the upcoming season.
Question: You are a multi-sport athlete. What caused you to choose football over all the other sports you pursued in High School?
Blakeney: My head coach in basketball coached football and track so he he talked me into doing those sports as well, to stay in shape year round. I ended up a 4x state champion and All-American in track, and won state titles in basketball my Senior year as the MVP, but football I felt I had the highest potential and highest ceiling. So, I decided to go to Duke to get a great degree and play great football.
Question: A lot of rookies have a particular player whom they model their style of play. Whom were your influences while playing at Duke?
Blakeney: I was a big Plaxico Burress fan, and I felt like we had similar physical attributes and talents. He and Keyshawn Johnson.
Question: Plaxico was indeed a fan favorite for the Steelers while he was here. With that in mind, what do you think sets you apart from other wide receivers on this team?
Blakeney: Well, in my short time in the NFL, I've found out that everyone is good, and has talent, so I feel like aside from my size I work hard every day and I'm consistent. Never gonna make headlines for the wrong reason, and I have big play ability.
Question: That is most definitely true, from the highlights I've viewed, you have a knack at using your frame to make tough catches. You were at rookie minicamp this weekend, how do you feel about Mike Tomlin and what makes him someone whom you want to play for?
Blakeney: He's a guy that shoots it straight. He is all about working hard and doing your job. I think guys, including me, love to play for him because he's a proven winner and he knows what it takes.
Question: Tomlin is most definitely a proven winner. He's never had a losing season as a head coach, plus a Super Bowl ring to add to it.
Blakeney: Yep. Scottie Montgomery was a wide receiver coach here too, and he ended up being my offensive coordinator at Duke, so I already came in expecting great things from him.
Question: As you probably know, the wide receiver competition this year is going to be stiff. Do you feel confident that you can take the last receiver spot on the team, and why?
Blakeney: Well, first off, I'm always confident because when the odds are against you, if you don't believe in yourself why should anyone else? And I think I can make the plays and contribute on special teams and give the team what they're looking for. I'm big, tall, fast and can catch well, so all I can do is pray and do my job and hope everything else falls into place.
Editor's Note: A HUGE thanks to both Kelly A. and Issac Blakeney for taking part in this interview. You can follow Blakeney on Tiwtter (@EazyIB_17).