The Florida Gators are trying to restock their defensive backfield in the class of 2017 as the team is expected to lose several key members after this football season.
Last week running backs coach Tim Skipper was in California and he visited cornerback Elijah Blades (6-3, 170, Pasadena, CA Muir) at his school and later the two spoke over the phone.
“Coach Skipper came by my school and it went great, I got a chance to talk to him that night over the phone,” Blades said. “I talked to him about Florida and how I loved the school and how it was my dream school. I really wanted to ask him if I could talk to the players and then I asked him about Vernon Hargreaves. He told me that the school was wonderful and that playing in front of 90,000 fans in the Swamp is great.”
Skipper explained to Blades how much the Gators need him in the defensive backfield due to low numbers at the position.
“He said that I fit in well and that I could come in and play my freshman year,” Blades said of Skipper’s message. “He basically told me that I would fit in great with the defense since I’m tall and a long defensive back. He said that a few of their defensive backs are going to leave early so they need guys bad this year.”
Defensive backs coach Torrian Gray also spoke with Blades and he reinforced what Skipper told the cornerback.
“I’ve talked to Coach Gray yesterday [Monday] and today [Tuesday],” he said. “Him and Coach Skipper are basically telling me the same thing about me coming in and being a big impact on the defense. He said that Florida is a great fit for me and that academics are good there.”
Blades is looking for the opportunity to play early, and he feels that he has a great shot to do that in Gainesville.
“I think there is a great opportunity for me if I come to Florida,” Blades said. “I really want to play as a freshman, so there is a good opportunity for me to come in and play early at Florida. It’s SEC football and that’s my dream.”
Even though the cornerback is from California, Blades actually grew up rooting for the Gators and thinking about the Florida-Florida State rivalry game in November.
“Florida has been my dream school. I’ve been loving Florida since I was little,” he said. “I grew up watching Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Matt Elam and dudes like that. I fell in love with the school and I love the rivalry with Florida State too.”
Blades has yet to visit Gainesville but the Gators just recently made his top schools list, so the cornerback plans on visiting soon.
“Florida, Utah and Arizona are my top three schools and I will announce my decision on June 12th that’s my birthday,” Blades said of his top schools. “I’m planning on visiting Florida the first week of June. I will be at Florida for that Saturday, Sunday and Monday.”
When Blades does visit Gainesville this summer he has a few things he wants to see, including talking to head coach Jim McElwain.
“I really want to see the stadium and talk to the coaches,” he said of what he wants to see on the visit. “I really want to talk to Coach McElwain and see how he feels about me coming to Florida since I’m coming from California.”
INSIDERS TAKE: Blades is a high target on the Gators recruiting board and right now it seems like it will be either Florida or Arizona for the corner. It goes without saying that Blades’ visit to Gainesville is huge for Florida.