Tim Stack
December 02, 2011 AT 05:00 AM EST

Gleeks were shocked last summer when Chord Overstreet, who plays jock Sam, declined an offer to return to the Fox hit as a recurring character in season 3 and instead chose to to focus on his other passion: music. ”I wanted to do a bunch of recording and take time to do that,” the 22-year-old says. But now Overstreet and Glee producers are ready to reintroduce Sam into the halls of McKinley High, where he’ll reappear on the Dec. 6 episode (and recur throughout the rest of season 3). ”Luckily, everything kind of opened back up [in my schedule] so I could jump back in,” the actor says. Sam’s back to boost New Directions, who are sorely lacking members thanks to splinter glee club the Troubletones. Explains Overstreet: ”Finn [Cory Monteith] and Rachel [Lea Michele] are looking for somebody to help them with sectionals…. So they bring [Sam] back to school.” But he’ll have to get used to the fact that former flame Mercedes (Amber Riley) has a new boyfriend. (”They address what happened [between them] last summer,” Overstreet teases.) Still, some things — like Santana (Naya Rivera), who named Sam ”Trouty Mouth” — never change. ”She goes off” on Sam when he comes back, Overstreet says. ”She rips me a new one.”

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