SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - It has been a long three weeks for Brian Blechen. The University of Utah safety was suspended for the first three games of the season for violating undisclosed team rules. He missed the Utes games against Northern Colorado, Utah State and BYU.
But he's back now, and appreciates football more than ever.
"I really just learned how much I love the game," Blechen said. "It killed me not to be out there with my team. I think it has made me more responsible and I learned from it definitely."
Blechen, who recorded three interceptions and three forced fumbles last season, had never missed a game at Utah. He started all 26 games for the Utes, so being forced to sit out was especially painful.
"It's been real tough," Blechen said. "Every game I want to be out there with the guys, but I knew three weeks would go by fast, so I just kept my head down and tried to help off the field with film and stuff like that."
Blechen hasn't missed a beat since returning to practice at safety. Although Quade Chappuis has filled in well in Blechen's absence, Blechen will be back in the starting lineup Saturday night.
"He is ready," said head coach Kyle Whittingham. "He's worked his tail off. He's taken virtually every rep on scout team, and he's had the right attitude. If there is a positive aspect about this, it's that he has handled it the right way."
"It'll be good," added Chappuis. "He's obviously a big-time player and can make big plays. So, it'll be good to have someone like that back and help us out in the defensive backfield."
"I'm just super excited," said Blechen. "I'm so glad to be back."
So are the rest of the Utes.