With a brutal non-conference schedule, no starter at quarterback and four new offensive linemen next season, the Buffs will need the explosive Bloom to keep defenses on their heels.
From a very happy Dal Ward Center in Boulder, the Buffs made the announcement today.BOULDER - University of Colorado football player Jeremy Bloom announced Wednesday afternoon that he will return to participate in the Buffaloes' 2003 season, and once again forgo lucrative endorsement deals that would help support his skiing career.
"(My decision) always came back to one thought," Bloom stated at the Dal Ward Athletic Center during the afternoon. "I've been so many places in my life and met so many people - a lot of them ridiculously rich - and I know first hand that money is the last thing that bring happiness. Doing what you love to do, and getting an education, and playing college football - that's what I love to do. And that's what makes me the most happy.
"I am absolutely looking forward to being a part of the Buffalo football team for the 2003-2004 season," the sophomore-to-be added. "I did not want money to control my life and control my decisions."
Bloom, who chose to be a Buff last year after the NCAA ruled that he could not remain eligible for football and earn endorsement money as a skier, competed last season on the World Cup freestyle track at his own expense after the 2002 football season. After establishing himself as one of the most electrifying players in college football, the Loveland, Colo. native finished second in the Big 12 in punt return average (16.8 yards, two touchdowns) and 13th in the nation. But still, after missing half the ski season during the Buffs run to repeat as Big 12 North champs, Bloom won two medals at the 2003 World Skiing Championships, nabbing a gold in dual moguls and a silver in individual moguls. He finished 13th during the World Cup season and had four top-four finishes.
Because he flourished as a first-year player with the Buffs and then skied at an extremely high level so quickly, Bloom quickly realized that he had two options he loved partially contradicting each other. But, after both the ski and football seasons concluded, the two-sport star saw hope for his dual career. Noting that U.S. Ski Team officials tried to set up a fund to help him capitalize financially and progress as a skier while playing football, Bloom's said Wednesday that the NCAA and U.S. team could not comprise a plan.
After learning the somber news last Friday, Bloom was once again forced choose between the skiing money and football at CU. But still, even with another hard decision facing him, the wide receiver/punt and kick return specialist went with what he felt was right in his heart.
"Coming here right after the Olympics (in 2002), I knew what it was like to compete at the biggest competition in the world," Bloom stated. "The feeling of representing my country there was amazing and that was the biggest honor I will ever have in my life. But as far as sure thrill and emotion - I bring you back to the (2002) Colorado State game right after the long trial and all the headaches when people were saying you are probably too small to play - my coaches gave me an opportunity to go out there and return that (75-yard) punt. When I scored, and don't think I'll ever have a feeling like that again. I just hope to have a couple more like that this year."
"This a testimony to Jeremy's love of the game, his love of his teammates, his love for the University of Colorado and his unselfishness," head coach Gary Barnett stated Wednesday. "In so many ways, he epitomizes what a student-athlete should be about it." "We are all very excited that Jeremy has chosen to be with us," CU offensive coordinator Shawn Watson added. "He has really invested himself in us and in himself. I think he is supported by a lot of people inside our program and with the ski team because we've all worked hand and hand."
Bloom completely agreed. "I am so thankful to have coaches like I do, that have supported me100-percent in every effort that I've had, and teammates that embrace me as a family member," Bloom said proudly. "But most of all, I look forward to playing in front of 50,000 people at Folsom Field, home of the best football fans in the country." And still for Bloom, even with the gut feeling and support from his coaches, the decision to return to football was difficult. However, he stated it wasn't as hard as it had been one year ago. While he knew he had much to improve with on the gridiron, he also noted that the changes in freestyle skiing impacted his choice.
"The sport of skiing is changing so much to the fact that they are changing the air scores," Bloom said. "So, I would have to do more inverted tricks and more maneuvers to be competitive this year. If I felt like I could maintain being a (freestyle skiing) world champion, I would just ski, because I need to learn a lot more to progress in the sport."
Instead Bloom chose to once again put the slopes on hold and concentrate on the pigskin, for now. Though he revealed that he will train to learn the new inverted tricks on water jumps in Salt Lake City later this month and then ski for three days in Canada as well, Bloom said that once the short ski training is over, he will be completely focused on football.
While he will turn all his attention to helping the Buffs peruse another Big 12 Championship and third straight North title, Bloom stressed that he still retains the fervor to compete and flourish in skiing. "I still have (winning a gold medal) inside of me," he said. "I feel that is something that escaped me in 2002, and I want to go back and change it. Right now, it is still a goal. I would love to go back and do that. "The feeling of reward is a lot greater when you win with a bunch of guys who went through the same things," Bloom added of another football challenge. "Individually I love having the challenge of me competing against the world. To be able to compete by myself against all of the (freestyle skiers), I like that challenge. But, I do like a balance of individual and team sport competition." Even Bloom's ski coach, who was also present for the announcement during the day, agreed that playing both football and skiing will only help Bloom with his complete athletic career.
"I think all the stuff that he is doing with football is benefiting his skiing because in a lot of ways it gets him away from skiing a bit," coach Tom Kelly stated. "All the physical training, and everything that goes along with the football program, I think it is a benefit to his skiing. For most athletes, that is not the program you write up for them. But, I think we have a special case here." "In our heart to hearts, all of us supported him and we knew he would make the right decision," Watson added about the dual competition. "He is a guy who absolutely lives his passion and he's not afraid to. In the back of my mind, I always knew he like it out (on the field). He's living every second of the moment right now, and he should, whether it is skiing or football." When asked if he feared having to play one of the toughest schedules in the nation during the upcoming season, Bloom stated that tough challenges just add more fuel to his fire.
"I look at the 2003 schedule and just smile," he noted. "That's a schedule I want. With the BCS system and everything that goes along with it, there is only one way to get to the top and that's to play the best. If you win, you know you will only be in one spot." "We've got a plan for him, that really will be a mark of his on our offense," Watson continued on Bloom, who has bulked up 10 pounds over the last six weeks at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. "With the year in development that he has had, this past year is going to help him become a bigger part of our offense. He gives us an element that you don't have in a normal guy. I don't think you can catch him in a phone booth. He is that quick, explosive and fast."
But for Bloom no matter how much coaches or the media rave about him, he is just happy to know that there is a plan for him, whether it is at receiver or returning punts.
"People ask me all the time if I was pressured from my coaches," he stated. "They are the only people who were around me, besides my family, who never asked what I was doing. I never got a call from Coach Barnett or Coach Watson asking, 'What are you doing? We want to know.' It's amazing how flexible they have been. They have never pressured me at all.
"I am just one of 85 players, though," he continued. "All I want to do is contribute to the team any way I can and do what will help us win."