Utah Utes football: Brian Blechen: 'I've got to be accountable'
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Suspended Utah safety Brian Blechen faced the music — make that the media — after the Utes opened preseason camp Thursday morning.
The junior, who will not play in the first three games of the season because of a violation of team rules, expressed remorse over the situation in what university officials said will be his only press availability until the suspension is complete.
Although Blechen declined to go into specifics, he acknowledged that he broke a team rule and wants to be accountable.
"It's in the past ... for a while," Blechen said. "I've moved on and I'm ready to get the team better and get back out there, get the season rolling."
After making 26 starts over two seasons, Blechen will miss the first games of his college career when Utah opens the season against Northern Colorado, Utah State and BYU. His scheduled return from the suspension is Sept. 22 when the Utes open Pac-12 play at Arizona State. In the meantime, he's allowed to practice with the team.
"I know it's definitely going to be hard and I probably won't know exactly how hard until I'm out there cheering the guys on," Blechen said. "But I think it'll just make me want to get out there that much more."
Blechen wouldn't say if he felt the penalty for his undisclosed violation was too harsh.
"I respect what the rules are and I broke them," he said. "I've got to be accountable. So it's not a big deal."
The strong safety, who has earned Freshman All-American and Pac-12 honorable mention recognition with the Utes, is determined to make things right and be active in whatever role he can this season.
Blechen said he spoke to his teammates when he knew trouble was looming and apologized for messing up.
"I'll definitely make it up to them when I get back out there," said Blechen, who added that he's learned from his mistake and is determined to stay out of trouble in the future and be a better teammate.
The 6-foot-2, 218-pound defender with 145 career tackles and seven interceptions has no plans to redshirt this season. He wants to play.
"I'm determined to get back," Blechen said. "Three games is a long time, but the season is a lot longer. So I'm just excited to get back out there."
As a veteran on the team, he's determined to maintain a good attitude and be a leader throughout camp — promising his teammates that nothing like this would happen again and that they could rely on him.
Blechen said that Utah coach Kyle Whittingham told him that "out of anyone I expect you to bounce back."
And that's exactly what the 20-year-old from Moorpark, Calif., intends to do.
"Any time I fall I'm not going to hide in a corner or cower or really let it permanently affect me," Blechen said. "But I'll definitely bounce back."
Blechen admits the whole thing is embarrassing and wants Utah fans to know he made a mistake and vows it's something that won't happen again.
"After this, they'll definitely be able to count on me out on the field," Blechen said, while adding he can't wait to play again.
In the meantime, Whittingham noted that Blechen will get some reps in practice with the regular defense. However, Whittingham said he'll also do a lot of scout team work — especially early on in the suspension.
Beyond that, Whittingham had little to say about situation.
"We just handle those things internally and we don't elaborate in any way, shape or form on discipline," he explained. "We just let you know what the bottom line is with it and leave it at that."
Quade Chappuis, a junior, opened camp in Blechen's usual spot on top of the depth chart.
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