Sucker punch could sink out-of-shape Blount
September, 4, 2009
By Todd McShay and Kevin Weidl
Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount began the season carrying some character baggage thanks to a suspension last season for failing to live up to team obligations and the fact he came into spring practice overweight and out of shape, and his sucker punch of Boise State LB Byron Hout on Thursday night took those minor concerns and made them massive. We talked last night to a college scouting director from an NFL team who said, "In the matter of five minutes, Blount just went from second- or third-rounder to completely undraftable." Yes, he was egged on a bit by Hout, but big-name players deal with that kind of trash talk all the time without throwing punches in return. On Friday, Oregon announced that Blount has been suspended for the remainder of the season. The suspension includes any bowl games; coach Chip Kelly said Blount will remain on scholarship. Reportedly, Blount was a no show for classes and at several team meetings before he was suspended last season. Then, add the fact he didn't take it upon himself to make sure he remained in shape during the time off and it sent up a red flag about his character and maturity. It isn't all about what the player does on the field. Teams are watching his every move off the field as well. They will be a little more leery about a prospect who doesn't shows the signs of being mature enough to handle the responsibilities that come with being a pro. One of the hardest aspects of the NFL scouting process is predicting how a player will act when you start cutting him handsome paychecks. There is more to professional football than just what happens between the lines. It's a full time job. There are meetings after meetings. Players take film home and study extra on their own so they can succeed. Blount has shown little of the desired drive or will to succeed in the past. Now add in a sucker punch, followed by disregard for coaches and teammates trying to calm him down. It shows a lack of respect for his opponents, but more importantly, his own coaches and his program. In an NFL climate in which commissioner Roger Goodell has placed a huge emphasis on behavior and accountability, teams are simply not willing to invest money in players who behave like this, unless you're talking about a Michael Vick or some other player with similarly freakish talents. Blount does not have that kind of skill set and has effectively cost himself a lot of money in the NFL. We had given Blount a late-second or early third-round grade after his strong finish last season -- when he rushed for more than 1,000 yards while sharing carries -- with the hope he would come into this season, carry the full load and capitalize on that momentum. He entered the season as our second-ranked senior running back behind Clemson's C.J. Spiller but has done absolutely nothing to help himself. He is blowing what was a great opportunity to maximize his draft stock as a senior And even if he hadn't lost his cool after the game, Blount's stock still would have taken a hit. Another scout we talked to said Blount appeared slow -- likely due to his weight gain and questionable work ethic -- and questioned his lateral mobility and ability to make people miss. He carried eight times for minus-5 yards, caught two passes for 13 yards and was not the same player we saw last season. Blount now has eight months to attempt to repair a severely damaged reputation in the eyes of NFL talent evaluators. Problem is, he does not have a chance to do anything publicly that will change the opinion of what he did. He cannot play his way out of this, and the onus is on him to prove he can be disciplined and remain focused while only practicing with the Ducks. The best-case scenario for Blount is to use the next few months to get himself in the best shape possible, to remain with the team in whatever capacity is allowed, take care of business in practice and in the classroom, and put on impressive performances in pre-draft workouts. And even if he does that, it will take a lot to convince NFL teams that the guy they saw on the field in Boise is not the one they will be bringing in. For more on the Oregon-Boise State game, as well as a look at defensive standouts from the South Carolina-NC State matchup and a breakdown of Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant, become an ESPN Insider.
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