The Vols need immediate help at cornerback for the 2019 season, and that’s why Tennessee’s coaching staff have made that position a huge priority in this recruiting cycle. And the nation’s top junior college cornerback has emerged as one of the Vols’ top targets in the class.
Elijah Blades, a four-star JUCO cornerback at Arizona Western College, picked up an offer from Tennessee back in late February. And since then, the Vols have been heavily invested in him and have kept in contact with him. Back in April, he listed Tennessee as one of the teams recruiting him the hardest. That hasn’t changed, and now he’s going to try and visit UT’s campus soon.
According to an interview with Rivals, Blades said he will “hopefully” set up a visit with Tennessee soon. He wants to visit the Vols so he can learn more about them.
“Honestly, I don’t really know too much about Tennessee, but they’re recruiting me hard right now,” Blades explained. “I hear from coach (Terry) Fair a lot.”
Coming out of high school, Blades was a four-star cornerback from John Muir High School in Pasadena, California in the 2017 class. Tennessee didn’t offer him back then, but Colorado State, where Terry Fair previously coached, did offer him and pursued him. Blades ended up signing with Nebraska out of high school, but he elected to go to junior college instead of enrolling with the Cornhuskers.
Now, Blades is rated as the No. 1 JUCO cornerback in the 2019 class and No. 5 overall JUCO prospect according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He holds offers from Alabama, Florida, LSU, Oregon, Texas, Miami, and others.
Blades plans on using all five of his official visits, and he’s already used one to visit South Carolina this past weekend. Tennessee will try and get him to use one of his four remaining visits to come to Knoxville.
Blades is 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. He’s physical and is good at press coverage, something that bodes well for how he would fit in with Tennessee’s defense.
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.
Blades plays at the same junior college as two Vol signees from the 2018 class. Four-star tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson and three-star offensive tackle Jahmir Johnson both played at Arizona Western with Blades last year.
Tennessee will likely continue to make Blades a big priority in the 2019 class, and they would be smart to do so. He has the type of ability to come in and make an immediate impact in his first year on campus.