Utah's Blechen Finding His Role

By Dean Johnson

Going off to college can be one of the more difficult challenges an average young adult has to face; mom and dad are not there to help you. You have to wake up on your own, cook your own food and go to class.

For student-athletes this task can be even more difficult as they have to balance their sport and school schedules. Many times, student-athletes also have to adjust to being a long distance from home, and for Utah sophomore linebacker Brian Blechen, it was one of the hardest things to overcome.

He grew up in Moorpark, Calif., a town in southern California that has a population of about 35,000. Blechen is a typical teenager who loves to play video games (Madden is his favorite), snowboard, swim, and - of course - play football.

He started his football career when he was eight years old and for the first couple of years was a running back. During Blechen's high school career he was awarded with the honors of ALL-CIF, and all-county and all-Marmonte League utility player. His main position was quarterback, but he played safety on the other side of the ball. He was also a member of the track & field, basketball and swimming teams for the Moorpark Musketeers. Coming out of high school, Blechen was ranked the No. 34 quarterback in the country by ESPN. Upon graduation he decided that he was going to trade the beaches of California for the mountains of Utah.

Blechen said that this move was one of the hardest challenges that he has ever had to overcome, and said that he became very homesick the first summer that he was on campus.

"My teammates and coaches were very helpful. My teammates are like brothers to me and coaches are like my second dad," Blechen said.

Having a second family in Blechen's life really helped him overcome his homesickness because he always looked to his brother and parents as his role models.

When he was young, Blechen would go to his brother's football practices, and this is where he started to become very familiar with the game of football. He said he considers his parents as role models to him because they were always there for him and always pushing him to be better, and that they have helped turn him into the person that he is today.

This has resulted in him as having the reputation as one of the hardest workers on the football team. He said that he has never liked to lose and whatever he is doing, he is doing it the best that he possibly can.

He was recruited to go to Utah as a quarterback, but upon arrival, coaches told him that he was going to play safety. He won the starting job at safety two weeks into practice and was even given the honors of honorable mention all-Mountain West Conference. Since then he has moved to linebacker.

"He is awesome. He's a natural and he could be one of the best linebackers who has played at Utah," defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake said. "That position is made for him because he is so fast."

Despite being moved to three different positions with the Utes, Blechen never once complained. Instead, he just looked into the best interest to his team and how he could help them win.

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