The most intense battle of Chase Blakley's football career to date hasn't come in pads. It wasn't a particularly close game with a cross-town school or memorable battle at the line of scrimmage. Instead, his biggest rivalry has been is with exposure.
Living in Coeur d'Alene, an Idaho resort town of roughly 44,000 people, Blakley has been forced to work overtime in an effort to showcase his talent and build buzz. He's logged his share of travel hours and turned in a handful of impressive performances at camps, most notably in Houston and Los Angeles. It seems to be paying off, too, as college coaches are the ones jumping flights these days.
"Florida and Oklahoma are for sure coming next in next week," Blakley said. "They're both definitely recruiting me strong. They both want me as a tight end hybrid. Some other schools are supposed to come in soon, too."
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Offensive coordinator Brent Pease is spearheading Blakley's recruitment for Florida. Josh Heupel is handling Oklahoma's pursuit. Offers from the Sooners and Gators are yet to arrive, but Blakley intends to change that. He's already attempting to squeeze in a trip to Florida's team camp, where he hopes the Gators will make things official.
"An offer might come at that camp if I preform well," he said.
Blakley's next trip will be a relatively short one. He plans to spend the upcoming weekend at Washington, from which he already holds an offer, for the Huskies' spring game. The four-star tight end has made previous trips to Seattle and says he has an established, solid relationship with Steve Sarkisian's staff. He's already a familiar face around campus, after all.
"They definitely treat me like they really want me to be there," Blakely said of Washington. "They're a big-time school for me right now."
But while Washington has to be seen as the frontrunner by default at this juncture, there are plenty of game-changers lurking.
"Oklahoma, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and Oregon State are the schools that are recruiting me the hardest, and now Florida," Blakley said.
Michigan has invited him to camp on its campus as well, and the 6-foot-5 Blakley has a family tie to Ann Arbor. His father played baseball for the Wolverines years ago, but it's unclear what kind of impact that might have on his decision should an offer materialize.
As a junior at Coeur d'Alene High School, Blakley caught 51 passes for 598 yards and seven touchdowns.