Recruit to watch: LB H.B. Blades

H.B. Blades, 6'1, 233 pounds, out of Plantation, Florida, is one of the sunshine state's top linebacker prospects. His phone has been ringing off the hook since Sunday, but he admits to having a big leader and has even considered committing early. So what school is it?

As a junior, Blades put up some big time numbers with 153 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. A team leader, he has great instincts, speed (4.6 forty), and most of all, he just loves to hit and punish the opponent. One of the nicest and politest people you'll meet off the field, he takes on a different persona on the football field, "I like to smash you in the mouth," he explained. "I can get dirty. I'm not one of those finesse linebackers who wants to arm tackle you. I want to hit you head on. I'm not scared to hit, I love to hit. I like being physical and I'll do whatever it takes to win. I've been called a dirty player, by the people I play against mostly."

Blades has seen his recruitment pick up in the last few days, "It's been crazy since Sunday," he exclaimed in referring to the first day college coaches were allowed to call recruits. "Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, everybody pretty much called. I just picked up another offer from Miami of Ohio. That's 22 now."

Despite the fact that he has so many options, Blades explained that he already has a significant leader among the schools he's looking at, "I have one team and then everybody else. USC is number one right now." The other schools being considered by Blades include Michigan, Notre Dame, Auburn, Virginia, and Purdue. He noted that all of his favorites have offered, including the Trojans who sent the offer via mail in late May.  Make no mistake, the Trojans are Blades' strong leader right now, as he explained in discussing his reasons "I like Coach Holt a lot, the linebackers coach. He's my kind of coach, and just the area, it's nice. I want to get away from home and get away from everything. People make a big deal how it's so far away from South Florida, but I lived in Seattle for a year and a half. I've been moving all my life."

Blades is also particularly impressed with how the Trojans are recruiting him, especially in comparison to other coaching staffs, "Most of these coaches are uptight. One thing about USC's coaching staff is that they're relaxed. They enjoy what they're doing."  Blades had a chance to come out to the Trojan four-day camp in June and he was able to check out the school he already had so much interest in, up close, "It had a major impact," he explained. "I just wanted to go out to USC before my official visit and see what it was like, with the football program, the campus, and everything. I really liked it a lot." Blades also enjoyed the opportunity to receive instruction from the Trojan coaching staff, "I learned what it's like to play for Coach Holt, Coach Carroll, and Coach Orgeron, and get used to the coaches," he said. "That gave me a better feeling of who they are on the football field."

Of great interest is the fact that Blades also struck up a couple of friendships at the Trojan camp, including one with a certain blue chip quarterback who is set to decide on a college in the next few weeks, "I got a chance to meet some other good players like Kyle Wright and Robert Lewis, the linebacker," he said. "I hung out with Kyle Wright most of the time and he's a pretty cool guy. I told him at the camp, ‘If you commit, I'll commit.' I'll be looking to see where he goes. Even if he doesn't go to USC though, they're still number one."

The nationally televised USC-Auburn game gave Blades an opportunity to see the Trojans in action. He paid special attention to a couple of former teammates and opponents, as well as Nick Holt's linebacking group, "Yeah, I saw the game. Actually, one of my teammates from last year signed with Auburn, but he got redshirted this year. I played against a lot of Auburn players that start for them. I also looked at USC's linebackers and they were in position to make plays."

Blades hasn't set up any official visits yet, but he's sure of one he'd like to schedule soon, "USC will be my first official visit," he said. "I'm going to try to get up there for the Notre Dame game, if my season is over by then." Other schools he'd like to visit include Michigan, Virginia, and Florida. With the way Blades talks about his interest in USC, it begs the question of whether or not he might possibly commit early to the Trojans. He admitted that he has given that a lot of thought, "You know, I've been thinking about it. I was thinking about committing early to USC," he explained. "I talked to Coach Holt before school started and he said that whenever I'm ready. I don't know. I could make it when I'm on my visit and just be done, or I could make it during the season." This one obviously looks very good for the Trojans.

Plantation has been practicing for over two weeks now for the upcoming season and Blades came into camp in great shape, thanks to a little help from an uncle, "I'm in pretty good shape." He said. "My Uncle Al that plays for San Francisco, I worked out with him all summer. I didn't go to any other camps. He worked with me on a lot of things that I wanted to improve on." Blades says his max on bench is in the "late 380's or early 390's," and his max on squat is 450 pounds. Blades will be in action next Thursday against Hollywood Macarthur when Plantation opens its season.


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