December 2 turned out to be a massive recruiting haul for Colorado State. The Rams earned commitments from six official visitors, helping to solidify what could be a full recruiting class come National Signing Day.
Among the important pledges a month ago was Tacoma (Wash.) Stadium offensive tackle John Blasco, Jr., a behemoth of a lineman who stands nearly 6-foot-7 and 305 pounds. Like all the prospects who committed that weekend, he said CSU proved to have a family-like atmosphere, so much so that half a dozen recruits decided to pull the trigger on commitments.
"The atmosphere, the coaching staff and the feeling of the family atmosphere. It was the feeling that they cared more for you as a person than as a player," Blasco, Jr. told ITR of his CSU visit. "Just talking to the other players, I was getting the vibe that what the coaches were saying was for real; it wasn't just talk, you know? That was a big thing for me. Another big thing for me was the ability to, with the offensive line having a lot of older guys, it gives me potential to be able to play soon."
Other highlights of the trip for Blasco, Jr. included touring the new on-campus stadium, which is scheduled to open this upcoming fall, and speaking with Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Blanch Hughes.
"Well, they fed us... a lot," Blasco, Jr. said with a laugh. "That was cool, of course. We saw the new stadium. Then we spoke with a lady named Blanche and she talked about just Colorado State, the University, and all the opportunities that were there. That was awesome to see someone who has been there as a student and stayed there for years and years and years. She was just going on about the atmosphere and all the great things about Fort Collins and Colorado State and the entire entity. That was dope to me, being able to see that there was more to it than football."
A familiar face served as Blasco, Jr.'s player-host. Washington native and redshirting freshman running back Rashaad Boddie served as his guide for the weekend.
The time spent with his former training buddy and Apple State native served Blasco, Jr. well.
"They all seemed like cool guys, guys I could hang out with and they were funny," he said of the team. "It was cool Boddie was there because we both trained with Tracy Ford up in Bellevue, Washington, up at FSC. He trained there in high school and I train there, too. A lot of players seemed like cool guys. I loved the practice atmosphere where guys were scrappin' in practice. It was real competitive. That's the type of thing I like to do in my own practices."
The weather and high altitude can catch first-time visitors off guard. Such was the case for Blasco, Jr., who said it will take time adjusting to the cold and thin air.
The way he sees it, it will be a long term investment that will better serve him in the future.
"The weather's probably going to be a little tough. It'll be pretty cold. I walked up a flight of stairs and was wondering why I couldn't breathe, and they were all like, 'It's the altitude.' It's crazy, but I got used to it. It should become an advantage at some point. Boddie was just telling me a lot about the atmosphere and where you're gonna be. It seems a lot like Tacoma, actually, from the city and stuff. It felt really comfortable for me. It's not like a huge city, but not also in the middle of nowhere."
On the field this past fall, Blasco, Jr. played left tackle and earned first team all-city, all-area and all-Pierce County honors. Blasco, Jr. was Stadium's lineman of the year, a team captain and an all-state nominee. Perhaps most important was his role in leading Stadium to its first ever playoff berth.
As a Ram, Blasco, Jr. is expected to play offensive tackle, most likely on the left side of the line. Offensive coordinator and line coach Will Friend sat down with Blasco, Jr. during a film session on his visit to explain to him what CSU does schematically and what they like about his skill set.
Certainly, his sheer size sticks out on film. He is also gifted athletically and advanced in his use of hands, feet and leverage. All those played a part in CSU targeting the big blocker.
"We just broke down a lot of Colorado State film and debriefed what I'd be doing if I was there," Blasco, Jr. said. "It was a lot of stuff I've done before, because our offense is a lot like Colorado State, so it was kind of reassuring for me. It was like, 'Ok, this won't be too different.' Of course, they'll have changes. He (Friend) also shared that he likes my athleticism. He said there are a lot of things I can do that other people can't do, not just based on pure size and things like that. He said he wants me to play tackle, for sure; he's not going to try and bump me inside. That's something I didn't want to play is guard in college."
In selecting CSU over offers from Hawaii and Montana, Blasco, Jr. is excited to begin the next chapter of his football playing career. He is expected to enroll for summer classes in June.
"I'm really excited to be a Ram. I'm really excited for what the program's doing, excited to go win a Mountain West Championship. I'm excited to join what these guys have already started building over there. I'm ready to go."