With a Thursday night phone call to Penn State head coach James Franklin and a press of the send button on his Twitter account early Friday morning, Valley West offensive lineman Chris Bleich formally announced he is reopening the recruiting process.
The phone call was to inform Franklin that he is decommitting from Penn State, the school he gave a verbal commitment to as a sophomore.
As time moved on, Bleich began reconsidering that decision, and he made unofficial visits to programs that have expressed interest in him. He currently has 12 scholarship offers, most recently from the University of Louisville.
“It has been building up; I wasn’t really sure about Penn State, and it kept going on and on,” Bleich said. “There was no one determining factor. I was just not sure if I made the right choice. I just want to make sure before all is said and done.”
Aside from the Louisville offer, Baylor and Maryland both have reached out, and a recruiter from the University of Michigan was at Valley West to check on him Wednesday. The Michigan recruiter said the school would be in touch with him when the Wolverines return from Italy.
Prior to reaching his decision Thursday, Bleich visited Rutgers, the University of Pittsburgh, Mississippi State and Nebraska. It was after the trip to Nebraska when he started to think twice about his Penn State commitment.
While at Nebraska, he had the opportunity to reconnect with a former teammate he met during his time at Florida’s IMG Academy: Cornhuskers offensive lineman Broc Bando.
“I really enjoyed the Nebraska visit,” Bleich said. “After that, it made me realize there are other options and I just have to reopen everything to make sure I make the best choice for me. I don’t want to be at a place for four years that I don’t like.”
Bleich said Penn State will continue to recruit him, and that he hopes to make his final decision in June so he can focus on his senior year at Valley West.
But he did admit his decision to give a verbal commitment to Penn State was a bit premature.
“Now that I look at it, I made the decision too early,” Bleich said. “I was only a sophomore. I was still young. I definitely learned to take my time with it. I do have a favorite school in mind which I liked a lot. I am waiting to take a few more visits just to see.”
Bleich said he enjoyed the visit to Mississippi State, but felt very comfortable at Nebraska. He did not reveal which school he deemed his favorite.
“(Bando) introduced me to other players and commits. It was just a bond that I made,” Bleich said. “It was like when you meet poeple and you just click, you are laughing and making jokes. That is how it was at Nebraska. It made me think that was a group of people I could play with and have fun with and be comfortable.”
For the time being, Bleich will travel to the Nike Opening for a camp on Sunday in Norfolk, Virginia. While there, he will have the chance to perform in front of several college recruiters who certainly know that he is back on the market.
“It is like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Bleich said. “I know what I did was a big decision, but I am just going to block it all out and go down there and do the best that I can. I have a lot of confidence in myself.”