Bloom not giving up hope he'll play

Updated: August 10, 2004, 12:32 AM ET
Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. -- Jeremy Bloom ran a few routes, caught a few passes and returned a few punts.

It was a day he never thought he'd experience again.

Still awaiting word on his eligibility for this season, Bloom went ahead and practiced with his teammates on the first day of Colorado's summer camp.

"To be out here on the field, to go to meetings, this is totally unexpected," Bloom said Monday. "I really didn't know that this was a real reality until probably a week and a half ago."

Bloom, a junior receiver, has been battling the NCAA for over two years about whether he can accept endorsement money as a professional skier and still keep his eligibility to play college football.

The world champion freestyle skier had tried to sue the NCAA for not letting him accept endorsement money while training for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Bloom started accepting endorsement money last winter and had all but given up hope on being able to play college football when the Colorado Court of Appeals denied his request for an injunction in May.

But Bloom's outlook for this season brightened last week when he learned the NCAA would take a closer look at his latest waiver request. Bloom wouldn't give details, but said he sent some forms to the NCAA on Monday and expects to hear a decision as early as Tuesday.

"I never did (give up). I was always planning on waiting to find out from the NCAA," Bloom said. "If I didn't hear anything, play. It's actually surprising that I haven't heard up until this point. So I'm just approaching the season like I'll be part of the team and turn the focus and get ready."

Coach Gary Barnett was just as optimistic.

"I just think both sides probably ended up deciding that maybe this is the best thing for college football and both sides are probably bending a little bit I would imagine," Barnett said. "I don't know any of the details of it. That's speculation, but that's what it feels like to me as I hear stuff going back and forth."

In two seasons at Colorado, Bloom caught 24 passes for 458 yards and two touchdowns and became a standout kick returner. Last fall, he returned 44 punts for 625 yards and two TDs and returned 24 kickoffs for 589 yards and one TD.

If declared eligible, Bloom is expected to compete for a starting spot this season.

"He's going to do great job for us this season," Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt said. "He's a great, great wide receiver and he's a great talent. Anytime you can bring a guy with that kind of world-class athleticism onto your team, it's going to help you out."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press