UConn an easy choice for Ligonier Valley's Bloom
For tight end Alec Bloom, it was an easy decision to choose Connecticut. He considered what he was getting into on and off the football field, and there were no other schools that came close.
“UConn was my first choice because I went up there and worked out in front of them at a camp, and they offered me that day,” the Ligonier Valley High School senior said. “I saw what they were all about. I liked their coach (Paul Pasqualoni). He's old-fashioned.”
Bloom spurned several offers from FCS schools and gave Connecticut a verbal commitment for 2014. UConn is one of five former Big East Conference teams set to begin their first year as members of the American Athletic Conference, a newly formed league immediately eligible for the Bowl Championship Series.
Bloom hadn't decided on a major, but he said he's serious about more than just playing football at UConn.
“It's a great academic school,” he said. “If you're going to play sports, you're a student-athlete. That's what they call it. You need to be good in school before you're allowed to play. I've always tried to be the best in school and combine sports to go with it.”
The 6-foot-7, 242-pound Bloom, who caught 16 passes for 337 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior in Ligonier Valley's run-oriented offense in 2012, also had been receiving interest from other BCS schools, including Pitt and Rutgers.
In addition, there were offers from FCS schools Colgate, Lafayette and Lehigh, where former teammate Micah Tennant, an offensive lineman, is in his first season.
“It just proves you can stay at home and still find your way,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said, citing a perception that District 6 schools may get less exposure to college coaches. “We've been able to get two of our kids full Division I scholarships the past two years, and that's a tribute to the level of football being played in the Heritage Conference.”
At least two other conference members — Penns Manor and Northern Cambria — produced full scholarship recruits to D-I schools last season.
Bloom is a three-sport athlete at District 6-AA Ligonier Valley, participating in football, basketball and track and field.
He excelled in the stretch-run of the 2012 regular-season, helping Ligonier Valley to a share of the Heritage Conference championship with Penns Manor. The Rams posted an overall record of 10-2 following a 26-12 loss to Forest Hills in the second round of the District 6 playoffs.
“He had all of his touchdown catches in the toughest games of the year down the stretch,” Beitel said. “We didn't throw the ball much early on. Alec's end-of-season films really impressed the coaches.”
Bloom also helped Ligonier Valley advance to the District 6 boys basketball playoffs, averaging 13.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, and he competed in four events in his first season in track and field.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.