Tennessee’s new coaching staff spent a lot of time recruiting junior college players out of Arizona Western College in the 2018 class. And their efforts paid off when they were able to sign No. 1 JUCO tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson and talented offensive tackle Jahmir Johnson from the school.
And now the Vols’ coaches are targeting one of their former teammates at the school.
Elijah Blades is a cornerback who plays for Arizona Western College, and he just picked up an offer from Tennessee on Tuesday afternoon.
Blessed to say that I have received an offer from the University of Tennessee pic.twitter.com/mCYpx3ilr1
— Elijah Blades (@savageszniv) February 20, 2018
Right now, Blades is not ranked by 247Sports, but he already holds offers from Ole Miss, Illinois, and Florida Atlantic to go along with his Tennessee offer. Coming out of high school, Blades was ranked as a four-star prospect and was the No. 48 overall player in the country according to the regular 247Sports rankings. He signed with Nebraska in the 2017 class, but he never played for the Cornhuskers. Instead, he took the JUCO route and is there now.
And as he revealed in an interview with Scout.com, that decision came because of academic qualifications.
“Being a partial qualifier meant I would have started off the fall semester at a JUCO but then could have enrolled at Nebraska in the spring,” Blades told Scout. “I decided I didn’t want to do that because I just wasn’t feeling Nebraska like that any more, it didn’t feel like the place for me.”
Blades also said later on in the interview that he wants to play for an SEC school, and that the school he first committed to, Florida, would be welcome back in his recruitment.
“I just told my mom that I really want to go back to the SEC,” Blades stated. “I would love to hear from Florida again. I’m a Gator fan and really love it there so I’ll probably reach out to them and see what’s up.”
Though there’s no film of him while at Arizona Western, his highlight tape from his time at John Muir High School shows off an incredibly athletic and speedy corner. But that speed doesn’t come at a cost of height; Blades is listed at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds. He knows how to use his large frame to play with a tough physicality, and he has a great break on the ball. He knows how to read quarterbacks fairly well and is dangerous when he picks off a pass.
In his first year with Arizona Western, Blades totaled 22 tackles, four pass breakups, an interception, a forced fumble, and an interception return for a touchdown according to ACCAC.org. He was also used as a kickoff and punt returner, returning eight kicks for an average of 26.9 yards per return and 10 punts for 38 yards.
Tennessee needs to address their secondary in the 2019 class, and they could use some immediate help. Blades would provide the opportunity to do just that. And his recruitment has both humbled him and made him hungrier.
“This process has humbled me and taught me a lot,” Blades told Scout. “I’m really motivated right now, and I know what I have to do to provide for my mom and younger brother.
“I’m not going to let anything stop me. I have to make it. It’s mandatory for me.”