NE PA tackle changes mind

pcmor@altoonamirror.com

One the eve of its annual Blue-White Game, the Penn State football has lost one of its 2018 verbal commitments.

“After many months of discussions with my family I came to the decision it is in my best interest to Re-Open my recruitment and Decommit from Penn State,” Wyoming Valley West four-star offensive tackle Chris Bleich posted on his Twitter page on Friday.

A 6-foot-6, 305-pounder, Bleich was one of the first members of the Nittany Lions’ 2018 recruiting class, pledging on April 7, 2016.

However, he seemed to be having second thoughts almost from that day. His comments to recruiting writers about Penn State were unusually lukewarm. Then he began posting things supportive of other college programs — notably Rutgers, with whom he shares family ties — and finally began to take unofficial visits to schools such as Pitt, Mississippi State and, most recently, Nebraska.

“I committed way too young in my sophomore year. This only happens once and I just want to make sure I explore all my options,” Bleich said.

Offensive tackle has been a point of emphasis in this recruiting class for the Lions, but Bleich’s change of heart might not turn out to be that big a blow. Since Bleich began showing interest in other schools, the Penn State coaching staff has been preparing itself by putting itself in place with other prospects, and, with a Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl appearance last season, the Lions have positioned themselves with some good ones: Maryland’s Rasheed Walker and Jaelyn Duncan, Virginia’s Nana Asiedu and New York’s Qadir White are among the nine they’ve offered who carry higher ratings than Bleich and with who Penn State is among the leaders.

In fact, it appears the Lions might have become the front-runner now for Asiedu, who is rated 10th nationally at the position.

Penn State also has offered Belle Vernon’s Blake Zubovic, Illinois’ Bryce Effner, Michigan’s Antwan Reed and Ohio’s Darrian Kinnard recently. All of them carry similar ratings to Bleich.

Effner was being watched for a potential commitment when he visited today for the Blue-White Game. However, BlueWhite Illustrated’s Ryan Snyder has reported that Effner no longer is planning to be at the game. Instead, all eyes are turning toward Asiedu, who is scheduled to be in attendance, along with other 2018 offensive tackle targets Reed and Zubovic.

“The buzz I’m hearing is that the Nittany Lions lead for (Asiedu) coming into the trip,” 247Sport’s Steve Wiltfong reported. “Ranked by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 7 offensive tackle, he is one of the most coveted targets on the PSU board regardless of position.”

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