Archive for Monday, August 9, 2004

Kansas always was ‘first option’ for lineman

Ottawa’s Blakesley picks program that initially recruited him

August 9, 2004

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His football team beginning its first practice of preseason camp, Kansas University coach Mark Mangino walked away from the action Saturday just long enough to ask an observer a question.

"He came over and asked when he was going to get a call from me telling him I was going to be a Jayhawk," said Ottawa High senior Caleb Blakesley, who had been mulling a scholarship offer from Mangino since April 18.

Blakesley also had received offers from Wyoming and Tulsa, and was receiving interest from Colorado State, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Northwestern, among others.

The lineman had made the drive up U.S. 59 on Saturday with no plan to give Mangino and answer, but he thought about his options throughout Saturday's practice and reached a decision before it was over.

"I thought, 'I'm here, and this is where I want to play,'" he said. "'What the heck, I might as well do it.'"

Rivals.com rated Blakesley as the top senior in the state. Several big-time schools, such as Notre Dame, had increased their recruiting efforts in recent weeks, and Kansas State had assured him after a summer camp that the Wildcats would be extending a scholarship offer.

Blakesley (6-foot-5, 280 pounds) attended a KU camp as a 6-foot-4, 245-pounder last summer, and Kansas became the first school to recruit him shortly afterward.

"KU was my first option the whole time, but I wanted to check out other places and make sure I wasn't jumping into things," said Blakesley, who made unofficial campus visits to KU, K-State, Missouri and Nebraska. "I finally decided it was about time.

"They all saw me play. I sent them tapes, I visited the schools. I'm sure a lot of them were waiting for the season, but this is the school that's been the best to me and I think I'll fit in well there."

Blakesley, who will begin preseason practices Aug. 16, celebrated his decision with friends Saturday night after returning from KU's workout.

"It was a pretty big deal down here in Ottawa," he said. "There were a lot of guys hoping I'd pick KU."

There also were KSU fans in Ottawa hoping the local standout would pick K-State, but the Wildcats had yet to follow through with the scholarship offer.

"I have no idea what happened with that situation," he said. "It doesn't matter now because I've committed, and that's it. A player's only as good as his word."

Blakesley, who plays offensive and defensive line for Ottawa, said KU recruited him for defense.

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