Admittedly, Ja’Quain Blakely has a bit of a problem. He gets lost. And it always seems to happen under the same set circumstances.
During a visit with SEC Country, the three-star linebacker from Colquitt County High School (Moultrie, Ga.) who signed with Tennessee shared two stories in which he couldn’t find his way back to his travel party during a pair of recruiting trips.
What was the funniest story that happened on one of your recruiting trips? I got lost in Tennessee. I got lost in the complex because I went to use the bathroom and everybody kind of left me. I was by myself. I didn’t know where to go. Then at Georgia, everybody left me. I was down the road from the complex and I had to use the bathroom. So I used the bathroom and I came back to the bus and everybody had left me.
I’ve kind of got a history of getting lost. For some reason, I always get lost when I go to the bathroom. I don’t know. It’s strange. I’ll always go to the bathroom and everybody will leave me or just forget that I went to the bathroom. I think that’s what it is. It’s strange.
What school came in second? What could they have done a little better? Florida came in second. They did all they could. I talked to somebody from Florida at least once a week. There’s nothing they could have done. It’s just what I wanted.
Which coach was it the hardest to say no? That you weren’t coming there? (Defensive coordinator) coach (Geoff) Collins from Florida. There was just something about him. There are certain coaches that their voice kind of put fear in you a little bit. There was just something about his voice and they way he talked. I just couldn’t say “No”. I’d just be like “Yes, sir” and then I would hang up. I would never say “No”.
I would never say “I’m not coming” even when I know I’m not coming. He told me he wanted me to come to Florida one weekend and I knew I was going to Tennessee that weekend. He was like “I’ll be looking for you. You going to come?” I was like “Yes, sir. I’m going to come. I’m going to be there. I’ll be there. I’m going to try my best to be there. I promise.” I tried my best to be there. I just didn’t try hard enough I guess.
What was the most creative thing a school or coach did to get your attention? I would have to say “The Orange Carpet” (recruiting weekend). “The Orange Carpet” really got my attention. Dang, that was nice. “The Orange Carpet” is like something I’ve never had before. It was like a mixture between the red carpet, the cameras and the lights, the stardom and the fame. It was exciting. It was a visit I had. You walk in. The DJ is playing music. You’ve got all the lights and people like paparazzi taking your picture. It’s cool.
What was the biggest rumor about you that wasn’t true? That I was about to de-commit from Tennessee and go to Florida. I had one of the UT fans actually ask me about it. I was like “What? No.”
Which school disappointed you the most during recruiting? Kentucky. They didn’t put up a fight. Once I committed, I didn’t hear much from them anymore. They just kind of gave up on me. Not saying I was going to change but who knows?
Which head coach of a team that you did not sign with was the nicest? Coach (Jim) McElwain from Florida. He was just chill when we had our meeting. It was a pretty cool thing.
Which coach was not the nicest? (Alabama) Coach (Nick) Saban. It was mostly business. He didn’t smile that much.
If you could give a junior only one piece of advice about the recruiting process, what would it be? Basically just choose somewhere where you feel like you fit. Just choose the right fit for you and not because the flashy uniforms and the flashy fans because all colleges have that.
Describe the impact of cost of attendance on your recruiting? It kind of surprised me how much we get, but it kind of excited me too because I don’t have to worry about calling mom and worrying her about money or try to find a job and play football at the same time. That’s a pain in the butt to do.
How much negative recruiting was out there? Not really about the schools, but telling me I’m not going to play. If I would come to their school I would play faster and stuff like that. Not a lot of that, but I got it sometimes.
What was your biggest regret during the recruiting process? Not taking all of my officials or some of my officials.
If you were in charge of the NCAA, what’s the one rule you would change with recruiting?
I would change that you could at least get some kind of gear from the college, like a shirt or something, while you’re there.