The Florida Gators hosted several top-notch prospects on campus this weekend for the start of summer camp and that included some out of state players as well.
Cornerback Elijah Blades (6-3, 170, Pasadena, CA Muir) made the long flight from California to Florida this weekend for his first visit to Gainesville, and the Gators impressed him.
“It was a good visit, I went to see the campus, the lake, the facilities and really everything,” Blades said of his Florida visit. “I really loved it, I enjoyed the visit. I talked to the coaches and they were showing me mad love and were just telling me that they would love to have me there. They want me to be a part of DBU and that they will take care of me and have me on a three year plan to get me to the NFL.”
Blades got the chance to see the stadium for the first this weekend and he was shocked at what the Swamp looked like in person.
“The Swamp, I’ve never seen a stadium like that before,” he said of the facilities. “93,000 fans in there is crazy to me. I can’t imagine that being full but the facilities were great.”
When the California prospect arrived on Friday night he came straight to the Gators’ camp, where he was greeted by hugs and hand shakes from almost the entire coaching staff.
“That was great to see that,” Blades said of the love he received when he arrived. “Especially coming from a SEC school because knowing that it’s far away from home, it was amazing to see. They really showed mad love towards me and it was all of the coaches.”
On Saturday, Blades got the chance to meet one-on-one with defensive backs coach Torrian Gray and go over game tape.
“We went over film and he said that possibly three guys could leave this year from the defensive back position,” Blades said of his talks with Gray. “He told me that I could possibly come in and play my freshman year. He didn’t say that I would start but that I could compete and have a chance to start. He wants me to be a part of DBU and can keep that tradition going there.”
Area recruiter Tim Skipper has been the leading force behind Blades recruitment from the start, and he gave Blades one message prior to the start of the visit.
“Coach Skip, before I came, he didn’t really say too much but he told me that he wanted me to come see Florida for myself,” he said of his talks with Skipper. “When I got there he just told me to look at it and embrace everything. Basically he didn’t say anything but he just let Florida speak for itself.”
Friday was also the first chance Blades had to meet Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain and the first meeting went well according to the cornerback.
“Coach McElwain is good and I talked to him a lot,” Blades said of his first meeting with McElwain. “He told me that he wanted me to be a Gator and that I’m a great fit for Florida and that I would be great for Florida’s defense. He said that I could come in and play as a freshman and get to the NFL soon. He thinks that I’m a great player overall.”
Heading into the visit Blades admitted that the Gators were a school he liked a lot and he says this visit only helped Florida out.
“The visit helped Florida out because if I didn’t see this then it would be kind of different for me,” he said on if this visit helped Florida’s chances. “Not seeing a school is like, is like saying what does a school mean to you if you don’t see it basically. Knowing that all of the coaches showed me love was cool too. It was a good visit.”
Not only did Florida help its chances with Blades but the school itself blew away the cornerback’s expectations.
“Really this visit exceeded my expectations,” he said of the visit. “I’ve never seen a school like this before. When I walked into the Swamp, it was unreal and something that I’ve always wanted to see since I was a kid. It was just great.”
Blades’ parents weren’t able to visit Gainesville with him this time but the cornerback has already shared his experience in Florida with his family.
“I’ve already talked to my parents on the phone and told them about how the trip went,” Blades said of his parents. “They were glad that it went good and they’re cool with me going anywhere. They just want me to make the best decision for me.”
Last week Blades said he wanted to decide on June 12th but after some more thought the cornerback has decided to wait a little longer.
“I backed off my decision date and I’ll probably decide after the season,” he said. “It’s still the top four teams of Florida, Arizona, Utah and Nebraska right now. I don’t have anymore summer trips planned though.”
INSIDERS TAKE: Blades says he wants to take his official visit to Florida for the LSU game with his parents. Right now it’s safe to say that the Gators set the bar really high for other teams, as Blades really liked his Florida trip.