Pasadena (Calif.) John Muir star Elijah Blades wanted to make a big impression against Glendale (Calif.) on Thursday.
He needed less than three quarters to do so.
The long, lean 6-foot-3, 170-pound four-star prospect shined on both sides of the ball, playing safety, receiver and running back. Blades normally plays cornerback and is projected to play the position in college, but he asked to switch spots since no one in the Pacific League tries to throw his direction.
“I just wanted to play safety and I'll be playing safety next game also just to try me out at a different position,” Blades said. “It's a lot different. You get a lot more action. Basically in my league nobody throws it to me at corner, so I just told the coach to put me back at safety and just see how it goes.”
It went quite well for Muir.
Blades had a monster first half. He rushed twice for 60 yards, scoring both times. He caught a 5-yard touchdown pass. He stopped a fourth down attempt with an interception and had a bushel of tackles leading the Mustangs to a 62-26 win despite Blades leaving the game early in the third quarter with a shoulder stinger.
“I think we played good overall. We just came out to play this game,” Blades said. “I'm trying to make an impact helping out the younger kids. Just show them the ropes. Teach them how it is. Just go to the playoffs and hopefully make a run.”
The win kept Muir in the playoff hunt despite a 4-4 overall record and a 2-3 mark in Pacific League action. Muir is fighting for their postseason lives partly due to Blades missing two games after a difference of opinions between he and a coach.
College coaches have struggled to find faults in Blades’ game, making him a hot commodity in Southern California, but he committed to play football across the country at Florida this summer. He said that commitment is “still strong.”
“I have a great relationship with the coaches. We get along a lot. We talk on a daily basis. They're just some great coaches overall and they're winning right now. It's a great program.”
Blades had to push back his original official visit plans due to Hurricane Matthew. He will now travel to Gainesville, Fla. on November 18 to see the Gators take on South Carolina. Though he has visited unofficially previously, Blades is looking forward to seeing the crowd and intensity in The Swamp. He also will be paying particular attention to how the interaction between coaches and players is handled.
It won’t be the first of his official visits as Blades visited Utah for the Holy War early in the season. He also has visits to Nebraska, Washington State and Illinois lined up. Along with those four, Blades said there is one other school that is still trying hard to sway his commitment — USC.
“They've been on me a lot lately. They talk to me every day. Just telling me how good I'll just come in there and play and get along in the rotation and just after football I'll be able to get a job quick because I'll be living in L.A.”
Even if he leaves Southern California for college, Blades plans to return to Los Angeles after his football days are over, so USC gives him the opportunity to stay home and potentially build his occupational network in the city he ultimately wants to live in. But the allure of the Trojans goes beyond that.
“I just like how the tradition is,” Blades said. “I have always loved that since I was a kid. Just how they come out and play and compete. They're never scared to play against big opponents.”
USC came into the picture late with Blades, only offering in July after he had already committed to Florida. Were the Trojans too late? Blades says no.
“I was just waiting for it. It’s never too late for me. I’m just seeing how the staff treats me now and going to go with that.”
So far, so good. When his Oct. 8 weekend opened up when his official visit to Florida was postponed, Blades took an unofficial visit to see USC’s 21-17 victory over Colorado.
“It was great. They came out to play. They had a winning attitude. They knew that Colorado was ranked and they came out to play. They just came out with a big team heart and just got a win.”
While the Trojan coaching staff was happy to have Blades attend a game, it is pushing hard for him to come for the weekend on an official visit. To do so, Blades would have to bump one of his remaining officials. If he does so, it would be a definitive sign of his interest level in USC.
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