Elijah Blades has been a long time admirer of the Florida football program. After the four-star cornerback picked up the offer in March, he referred to the Gators as his "dream school." On Friday, Blades made the long journey from Pasadena, California, to Gainesville, Florida, to finally see the school in person.
The big question would be, could UF live up to the hype?
"They did for sure. They exceeded my expectations," he said. "It was impressive. I saw what I wanted to see. The Swamp blew me away. I've never seen a stadium like that. When I walked through it, it was great. I loved it... They told me 93,000 people could show up when playing in a rival game. That would be crazy. The facilities were great also. Just seeing the school and talking to the players it was just great. It was a great visit overall."
According to the Muir High School playmaker, the visit started off on the right foot, and as soon as he stepped into the indoor practice facility during the 7-on-7 tournament.
"When I first walked in they [the Florida staff] all just surrounded me," he said. "It was great knowing that I'm from California and Florida was showing love like that... They just told me it was great that they finally got to see me in person."
UF running backs coach, Tim Skipper, is Blades' area recruiter, however, on this trip he was also able to connect with defensive back coach, Torrian Gray and of course Florida head coach, Jim McElwain.
"They said I can come in my freshman year and play a lot. My second year I could start and leave after my third year and go into a draft-just be an impact player on the defense and just ball," he said.
Although Blades has spoken to McElwain on the phone a few times, he was even more impressed by the head coach in person.
"I wanted to meet him," he said. "Talking with him in his room and seeing all the championships, the rings, pictures, just everything about it was great. He was cool. He told me that he really wanted me to be a part of DBU and the Gators-that really was impressive."
"We had a good time. We just talked about Florida," said Blades. "He [Gardner] said he loves it and that it's a great team to be apart of. It's DBU, there is nothing that can compare to Florida; and that I can come in and play my freshman year. They will have three defensive backs leaving, so I can come be part of DBU with him and just do great things."
Blades admits that when Florida offered him a few months back he "wanted to commit." However, after talking with his parents, they decided he needed to explore all his options, and because of that he is no longer committing on June 12 either. He will make a decision "probably after the summer," but nothing is set in stone.
Utah, Arizona and Nebraska are some of the other schools Blades continues to consider. Although he has no planned visits at this time, he expects to visit Utah and Nebraska, and is also planning to take a few official visits.
He hopes to return to Gainesville for Florida's game against LSU this season.