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Mackey: Now hear this: Blystone attracting attention

| Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, 10:45 p.m.

The only resistance Washington's Zach Blystone faces these days happens in the weight room.

No WPIAL Board of Control. No lawyers. No court injunctions. No school board meetings.

Blystone is now a regular football player — sort of.

If you consider someone who's 6-foot-2, 278 pounds and has garnered recent visits from Pitt, Virginia Tech and Boston College regular.

While once Blystone, a junior two-way lineman, was the poster boy for the WPIAL's War on Intent, he's now one of the Class of 2015's biggest sleepers.

“Putting last year behind me,” Blystone said.

“Working as hard as I can for next season.”

The Blystone case provided plenty of fall fodder. You know it by now: Blystone went to Charleroi but transferred to Wash High. Charleroi screamed athletic intent. The WPIAL agreed. Multiple PIAA appeals never changed the verdict.

Blystone got a court injunction and played one game, which Washington forfeited, before the school board backed, then pulled the plug on, the ordeal.

The process was sad on many levels.

The biggest joke was that it featured adults preventing a kid with dreams of playing college football from trying to play college football. Turns out college coaches aren't attracted to blank tapes. But hey, at least the sanctity of the 2013 football season was preserved, right?

Blystone enters his senior year behind the eight ball, the nine ball and half the pool table. He's got size, a ton of raw talent and a coach who would hitchhike to New Jersey for one of his players.

But he's got no proof.

“I feel like once I play my senior season, I'll be caught up,” Blystone said. “But right now, I feel like I'm behind. College coaches go off one thing, and that's the games you play. They couldn't do that.”

Blystone has been lifting four days a week and doing speed training for three. His max bench is 370, squat 545.

At the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio, Texas, in early January, Blystone benched 185 pounds 28 times, ran the 40-yard dash in 5.16 seconds, the shuttle in 4.4.

He has Washington coach Mike Bosnic, a former Pitt lineman, working with him on technique. With all the snow recently, Bosnic ran Blystone through one-on-one pass rush drills in the school hallway.

“I think as the year goes on he's going to continue to get more attention,” Bosnic said. “I think people are going to catch on.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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