Four-star cornerback Elijah Gates kicked off his offseason with a couple good camp performances and now has an important visit under his belt.
The talented prospect from Buena Park, Calif., shined at the Pylon Elite 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas last weekend, showing great coverage skills and the ability to blanket his side of the field, and he followed that up with a stop by UCLA on Wednesday, meeting with head coach Jim Mora and assistant Demetrice Martin on campus.
"I had a great time just talking to coach Meat," Gates told Bruin Report Online. "He gave me a tour of the campus and the school, the athletic department and all that. And it was great talking to coach Mora about myself and my family, and just about his philosophy and his history in the NFL. I got a good feel for the tradition of UCLA -- it's a strong alumni network and I really liked it. It was a great time.
"They told me they need some guys like me and Darnay Holmes on the other side of the defense. They love how I can play multiple positions too. Coach (Eric) Yarber wants to use me on the receiver side and they told me they need me to make plays. I know they've got some seniors leaving and they need to fill positions."
Seeing what the Bruins had to offer was the first item on Gates' itinerary. He intends to visit Oregon on April 1 during his spring break and will follow that up with a Midwest swing to Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Ohio State in May. Location doesn't matter to Gates, but the Bruins' proximity certainly isn't a negative since playing his college ball near family would be a bonus.
"It's really about where I feel most comfortable," Gates said. "I want a coach that will make me a better person and make me successful off the field as well. I loved UCLA. It was nice.
"My favorite part was the support system they have there. Talking to coach Mora and the academic counselor, I just love how they help with tutors and help with the transition from high school to college. I know I would have 100 percent support from them. Coach Mora is a down-to-earth dude; I know he can get real serious on the football field, but he's a cool guy. He's like your dad. If there is anything you need, he's there to talk with."
UCLA earned the first unofficial visit in what is shaping up to be a busy recruitment, and the Bruins did enough to get Gates to start thinking about his next stop in Westwood.
"I want to wait it out before making a commitment, take all my visits and make sure I make the best decision for me," Gates said. "I definitely don't want to rush it, but UCLA is for sure worth an official visit for me. I can't wait to be back."
Check out highlights of Gates from his junior season last fall...
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