Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman. Today we discuss the nation’s top junior college cornerback, Elijah Blades, who made his first visit to LSU for the team’s spring game.
LSU makes Elijah Blades a ‘want’ and ‘need’
Elijah Blades is no stranger to the recruiting process. One of the premier cornerbacks in the 2017 recruiting class, Blades committed to Florida and signed with Nebraska before being forced to take the junior college route. Those experiences have prepared Blades for his second chance.
The 4-star cornerback made his first visit to LSU over the weekend for the team’s spring game. Defensive backs coach Corey Raymond did not recruit Blades at John Muir (Calif.) High School, but the top junior college defensive back has drawn Raymond’s attention in a noticeable way in recent months. Raymond and LSU coach Ed Orgeron are in daily communication with Blades as they look to re-stock a secondary that likely will lose top cornerback Greedy Williams to the NFL after the 2018 season.
On Blades’ first trip to Death Valley, it was clear to see the attention he commanded from the entire coaching staff.
“Coach Raymond has been contacting me. Growing up, LSU has been a school I wanted to see, so when they offered me, we’ve been talking to him and Coach O about making a visit,” Blades told SEC Country. “I’ve seen the defensive back pedigree and what he does down there and what his defensive backs do.
“My main takeaway was basically that Coach Raymond, Coach O and the whole staff all showed love. They made me feel like I was at home, a part of the family already. Not one, not two, but the whole coaching staff made me feel welcomed. The way Coach Raymond is with his guys, Coach O is a great coach and it seems like everything he did was geared toward a family-oriented atmosphere.”
Blades, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound corner, is long, lean and fast, an ideal cornerback in Raymond’s system. He was a top-150 prospect in 2017 and currently sits as the No. 3 JUCO prospect and is tops among corners.
After Raymond whiffed on blue-chip corners Patrick Surtain Jr. and Mario Goodrich III to close out 2018, there is a major emphasis on secondary recruiting for 2019. LSU has identified Blades as an instant solution.
“Basically, Coach Raymond told me I can come in and have the chance to compete and get a starting spot, be the guy, and not just any guy — someone who can come in and take over,” Blades explained. “I have a chance of playing one year and going to the NFL and that’s a great feeling. It’s a second chance and not just coming back and failing again. I can come in and go to a great school that produces defensive backs from year in and year out. Knowing my abilities and what I can do, I can come in and be that guy, set the tone and show everybody what I’m all about.
“Coach Raymond, LSU didn’t even talk to me once during the first recruiting process,” he added. “Now it feels great. Taking I took the JUCO route and what I got going in, he believes in my talent and my ability and what I can do. I can come in and be his guy. I feel like he wants me to come in and do him a big favor for him and attack it.”
Blades watched LSU closely on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, then returned to campus for much of Sunday for an extended unofficial visit.
For the second time that weekend, Blades met with multiple members of the coaching staff and dressed in a purple-and-gold uniform. Before returning to Arizona Western Community College, he and Raymond gave his mother a phone call to discuss a potential future in Baton Rouge.
“My mom has always been there for me and she wants me to pick the right school,” Blades said. “She wants to talk to the coaches and see what their plans are for me, make sure they’re bright people, genuine people that are going to have me on the right path. She first talked to Coach Raymond [Sunday]. They were talking about family and how I’m a want and a need and how I’d be in great hands if I end up there. Going there, I could be a great person on and off the field and not just improve my football abilities, but as a man also. She told me she felt good about it, that he [Raymond] is a good dude, but she’s got to meet him.
“You know how moms are,” he laughed.
Blades has collected several notable offers in recent months. Alabama, Oregon, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Ole Miss all have extended offers.
LSU and Oregon are pushing the hardest, he said.
After making the trip to the Bayou, Blades is trying to head to Oregon next weekend. He’ll then be at Tennessee before visiting Ole Miss on May 31 and South Carolina on June 2. He has no timetable for a commitment.
“Me and Coach Raymond usually talk on a daily basis,” Blades added. “Basically, he lets me know he wants me and even on the visit, that I was a main priority. They made it feel like an official visit, showing mad love to me. Every school can offer, but not every school will talk to you on a daily basis and they showed me that.”
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