Chris Bleich is one of the biggest recruits in northeast PA, in more ways than one. At 6'6", 315 pounds, the Wyoming Valley West offensive lineman doesn't take an offseason and all that hard work has paid off. He committed to UCLA last week.
"It felt really good for me and my family," Bleich said. "I've been working on this since 8th grade year of football to make it somewhere and now I'm finally happy to say I know where I'm going and I'm excited for the future."
The road to California wasn't always easy. Bleich verbally committed to Penn State in April of 2015, but a year later, he de-committed. A tough decision, but one he felt he had to make.
"When I first started getting talked about if it was right for me or not, it was going on and on for like, during football season even and then once I finally de-committed, it was kind of a relief for me because now I had all my options to see what was best fit for me and I finally found it," Bleich said."
A three-star recruit, Bleich would end up getting 15 offers, eleven from power five schools, but he says UCLA was the place for him."
"For all the opportunities out there for a young kid to live alone, all the connections I could possibly get and all the coaches at UCLA, Coach Hank Fraley, the offensive line coach, he's just someone that's played int he NFL for eleven years, I think an all-pro for seven," Bleich said. "He's a younger dude and someone I could connect with easily. I just look at him as someone that could honestly develop me into the player that I want to be and hopefully get me to the next level."
And a trip to sunny, southern California certainly helped.
"First trip to UCLA was my first trip to the west coast," Bleich said. "I love it out there. I mean, I went to Venice Beach. That was something different, Muscle Beach, where they filmed White Boys Can't Jump. Seen that. It was pretty cool to see."
But for now, Bleich has something else on his mind, something much closer to home.
"Honestly, my goal is kind of just simple, just help my team get a district gold medal," Bleich said. "It was something we talked about for a while. We were actually practicing three months ago. So we're putting a lot of work into this season. So hopefully we can make it come true. It's my last season. I kind of hope to end it on a good note."
Bleich opens his senior season with the Spartans August 25th at Scranton.