football Edit

Vols among the schools recruiting JUCO CB Elijah Blades the hardest

As Tennessee scours the 2019 class for cornerback help, 4-star junior college defensive back Elijah Blades has emerged as a priority target.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound corner has legit 4.4 speed with tremendous length and has garnered offers from tons of top programs following an impressive freshman season at Arizona Western C.C.

Blades was originally a member of the 2017 class and signed with Nebraska, but instead of taking an academic redshirt, the corner opted to enroll in junior college. Last fall, Blades recorded 22 tackles, four pass breakups and a 54-yard pick-six.

Tennessee extended a scholarship offer in late February and has been pushing for a summer visit. That could finally happen this month, with Blades telling “hopefully we’ll set something up.”

Blades has visited LSU and South Carolina this year, with Miami, Florida and Oregon among the schools recruiting him the hardest.

What about the Vols?

“Tennessee is in there, too,” he said.

“Honestly, I don’t really know too much about Tennessee, but they’re recruiting me hard right now. … I hear from coach (Terry) Fair a lot.”

Blades, a Pasadena (Calf.) native, had a relationship with Fair dating back to high school and two have continued to develop that connection. Despite Fair now recruiting for Tennessee — and not Colorado State — the message is largely the same, per Blades.

“It ain’t no selling from coach Fair,” he said. “Basically, it’s what he told me when he was recruiting me back in high school that I can come in and have a chance to play right away.”

Blades didn’t hold an offer from Tennessee as a prep prospect and has never visited Rocky Top. He does have a tie to the program, though, playing with Vols signees Dominick Wood-Anderson and Jahmir Johnson last year.

Tennessee has made it clear to Blades that there’s an opportunity to see the field immediately in 2019, and that message is certainly attractive to a junior college prospect with vision of making it to the NFL. Jeremy Pruitt’s track record of developing defensive backs is something he’s definitely aware of, too.

“I know that he puts a lot of dudes in the league," he said.

Blades is in no rush to make a decision this summer, and plans to take all five official visits before making his next college decision.