A Top LB Target Seriously Considers ISU

The son of former Detroit Lion and University of Miami defensive standout Bennie Blades is looking to make his own mark in college. He may very well end up doing that at Iowa State starting next fall.

Plantation (Fla.) linebacker H.B. Blades (Horatio) told Cyclone Nation Thursday night he has four official visits scheduled over the next several weeks, including Iowa State on the weekend of Dec. 13-14. Blades said he has set Pittsburgh for this weekend, Auburn (Jan. 10-11) and Virginia (Jan. 17-18). He will also take an unofficial visit to Miami over Christmas break.

Out of his mix of schools, Blades said the Cyclones sit very high on his list.

"I'm very serious about Iowa State and they stand in my top three right now," he said. "The schools I'm interested in are Virginia, Pitt, Iowa State, Miami, Auburn and Colorado State. My three favorites are Iowa State, Pitt and Virginia. It's going to all come down to how people are on my visits and then I'll see what happens."

Blades says the Cyclones have many things going for them. Former Plantation standout Brian Thompson, a good friend of his, saw plenty of playing time in his redshirt freshman season. The coaching staff also appeals to him.

"I love the coaching staff," Blades said. "They have built a very good program that's nationally recognized. One of my ex-teammates Brian Thompson is a running back for them. We're real close and talk to each other about once a week. He tells me what's going on. From what he tells me it's a great area, great place to play football and it's a great place overall."

Virginia also peaks Blades' interest because of its head coach Al Groh, a veteran who has experience in both the pro and college ranks.

"Coach (Al) Groh used to be a linebackers coach and coached a lot of great ones like Lawrence Taylor and Mo Lewis," Blades said. "He won national championships and Super Bowl championships. This is only his second year (at Virginia), he coached a lot of freshmen this year and they won eight games. They're going to be something to reckon with in the future."

One of the top linebackers on ISU's recruiting wish list, Blades put up some amazing numbers as a senior at Plantation, recording 149 tackles, six interceptions, 4 ½ sacks, six fumble recoveries and eight forced fumbles in 10 regular season games. He also scored two defensive touchdowns while leading his team into the second round of playoffs and District 7-6A title.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder played both inside and outside linebacker, which has boosted his stock.

"A lot of colleges like me because I can play all three," he said. "If they want to watch film with me over the tight end, they can. If they want to watch film on me over the center, they can. I've played all of the positions. I've covered flat receivers and tight ends, I've played inside and outside. I don't have any preference. Whatever place I can start faster is where I want to be."

How soon would Blades consider making a commitment?

"I want to take every single visit so I can get a good look at all of them and make sure I'm making the right decision," he said. "Once all of my visits are over, then I'll know what I want to do."

The son of NFL veteran Bennie Blades, who retired from the NFL's Detroit Lions three years ago, he's also a student of the game.

"He had a big influence on me," Blades said. "I used to go to practices with him, got into the mode of watching film when I was younger and read his playbooks. Naturally, I just know football because I've been around him my whole life. It has helped me a lot with football. I have more football knowledge than most kids my age.

"My main strength is my head. I'm very smart. If a certain team lines up in certain formations, I remember seeing it on film all week, they have their tendencies and I know they're going to run one or two plays. Knowing that gives me an advantage mentally, because I know where they're going. It makes it a lot easier with my speed and power to make plays once I know where the ball's going."

Horatio is also the nephew of Blades brothers Brian and Al.

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