In this installment of the Recruit Notebook, we get reacquainted with a player who has heavy family ties to The U, and was born a Cane: CB Al Blades Jr.
Some people are born into Royalty. For Al Blades Jr., he was born in Miami Hurricanes royalty. Not only did his father of the same name star for the Canes in the late 1990s, his uncles Brian and Bennie, a wide receiver and safety, respectively, also starred on championship Canes teams of the past.
The name “Blades” carries weight for Hurricanes faithful. From a young age, fans of The U have followed Blades Jr’s career with the hope that he would follow his family’s footsteps to one day play for The U.
Blades Jr. started to make a name for himself after he had some strong showings during 7v7 season as an underclassman, and by earning his way onto the field early on at powerhouse Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas.
Along with his Raiders teammates, and also on his own, Blades Jr. visited many college campuses, and was heavily recruited by programs all across the southeast. On one such visit, he took this iconic picture at Florida State, which should be framed and put in the Lourve as a masterpiece.
As his HS career went on, Blades committed to, decommitted from, and re-committed to the University of Miami. Other teams recruited the talented DB the whole time, but he was born to be a Cane.
Like I previously said, Blades Jr. joins father Al (1997-2000) and uncles Brian (1983-1987) and Bennie (1984-1987) in playing for the Canes. All 3 of those family members went on to play in the NFL, with Brian playing his entire 11 year career with the Seattle Seahawks, Bennie starring for the Detroit Lions for 9 years before moving to the Seahawks to play his final season with his brother, and Al playing 2 years for the San Francisco 49ers.
Blades Jr’s father was tragically killed in an auto accident in 2001 when the younger Al was only an infant. Luckily, the Blades are a tight knit family, and young Al was able to overcome that loss with the support of family.
While many people wanted to rush Blades Jr. to commit to Miami, he was quick to remind people on social media that being a Cane is more than skin-deep for him. He took his time, evaluated the decision, but in the end decided that being home at Miami was the place for him.
On the 247sports composite, Blades Jr. is a 4-star prospect, the #10 CB in this class, #12 in the State of Florida, and #57 recruit overall.
Blades Jr. committed to Miami over Florida State, Alabama, and Tennessee out of a list of 30 scholarship offers from around the country.
Blades Jr. as a player
When he first cracked the lineup for St. Thomas Aquinas, Blades was a talented and athletic cornerback who flashed elite talent on the field. He showed well at Deion Sanders’ Prime21 DB camp, and at events all across the country, and showed why he was a top notch recruit.
Blades Jr. has great size for a DB at 6’1” 180lbs. He can still develop physically, but has the frame to fill out well as he continues to develop. At current, he’s a bit top heavy, and will need to continue to build his lower body for balance.
As do most cornerbacks, Blades Jr. loves playing on an island. He was better at this as a sophomore and junior than a senior, but there are things to like about his coverage ability. Blades struggles with elite speed, however, which could be an issue moving forward.
Additionally, Blades Jr. is good but not great in run support. He can get in a habit of accepting being blocked, which can compromise the defense’s integrity. This is a key area for growth moving forward, as Miami DC Manny Diaz requires all his DBs be willing, physical tacklers to see the field.
Finally, after seeing Blades Jr. in person a few times over the last 2 years, I’m not certain he sticks at CB. He has the look of a Safety to me, which both his uncle and father played at Miami. Instead of trying to fit a round peg in a square hole by keeping Blades Jr at CB, I hope he’s able to move inside to safety, where I think his skills are a better fit.
- Length for position
- Aggressive play
- Experience vs top-tier competition (in-games at in practice at Aquinas)
- A bit stiff
- More of a Safety than Corner (which is a weakness if he’s playing CB)
- Developing technique as a tackler
Miami is stacking an elite group of DBs in the 2018 recruiting class, with more to potentially come as the cycle progresses to normal, February 7th Signing Day.
Blades Jr. is a talented player, but he will have to regain the form seen in his sophomore and junior seasons to be a consistent contributor for the Canes.
Chances for a redshirt: 4/10
Blades Jr. needs to get back to basics, sure, but he has the size and athletic ability to contribute on special teams as a freshman, at least.
That’s it for this installment of the Recruit Notebook.