Pasadena (Calif.) Muir four-star cornerback Elijah Blades committed to Florida last summer, but since then, USC has attempted to present themselves as alternative to that decision.
Simply put, USC is selling themselves as the option closer to home. Saturday, proximity played to USC’s advantage with Blades taking in the Trojans win over No. 21 ranked Colorado at the Coliseum.
“I haven’t been to a USC game in about two years,” said Blades. “I just wanted to go back and see how the environment was.
“I wanted to see how the coaches were doing with the players and see the atmosphere around USC.”
The Trojans 21-17 win wasn’t pretty, but Blades gave USC high marks.
“I think the team really played together,” said Blades. “Even though they’ve had problems, it seemed like the team did their best to just come out with a W.”
While USC did not offer Blades a scholarship until after he commit to Florida, the Trojans have not been hesitant in giving him the full court press since then.
“They have been recruiting me a lot harder the past few months,” said Blades. “They talk about how they’re going to need corners because their corners are leaving.
“Basically, I could come in and play at USC, so I don’t have to go all the way to Florida. I could stay in my own backyard and have my family and friends see me play.”
Although UCLA plays their home games at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, it’s USC, ironically, that have signed many of the city’s best players over the last few years. Players like Marvell Tell, Kevon Seymour, Trevon Sidney, Tyler Vaughns and Steven Mitchell were all originally from Pasadena.
“A lot of Pasadena guys have been to SC and liked it,” said Blades. “They say it’s a good school to play for and the networking after football is really good.”
In terms of wins and loses, USC has hardly presented itself well this season. Still, Blades isn’t basing his ultimate decision to sign with a school solely on the top 25.
“I’m going off of my relationship with the coaches and how they bring me in to their program — like if I was family,” said Blades. “Wins and losses don’t really mean that much, although it is something I’m looking at.”
In fact, Blades' commitment to Florida has a lot to do with their coaching staff.
“I’m still solid with them because I’m comfortable with the coaches,” said Blades. “We get along and they also talk to my parents a lot too.
“We talk every week and I also get along well with the other commits. I also feel like Florida is a good school for me to get out for the NFL, eventually if I'm fortunate.”
Blades had planned on unofficially visiting Florida this past weekend, but Hurricane Matthew put an end to those plans. He now plans on unofficially visiting Gainesville for the South Carolina game and officially visiting again in January.
“USC is a school I’d just unofficially visit because it’s in my backyard,” said Blades. “As for other visits, my parents just want me to weigh my options and look around.”
While USC will not get an official visit, Blades is still considering the Trojans as an option.
“It’s in my backyard and the networking from USC is good,” said Blades. “I would love to come back and work in California after football. The networking at a school like USC would really come in with that.”