Miami is close to getting all of its Class of 2018 commits signed Wednesday as part of the early signing period. After taking an official visit to Coral Gables, Fla., during the weekend, Al Blades Jr. could help get the Hurricanes one step closer to locking down every committed member of their class.
The 4-star cornerback from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., told DieHards on Sunday he is considering signing this week rather than waiting until February. The senior previously planned to wait until National Signing Day, which would have given him time to visit a handful of other schools such as Tennessee and Michigan.
“I’m not sure yet,” Blades said. “It may be next week.”
Blades, the son of former Miami all-conference safety Al Blades, is one of three committed scholarship members of the Hurricanes’ next class who has not confirmed he plans to sign during the newly instituted early period. Cleveland Reed, a 4-star guard, is one, and Nesta Silvera is the other. The 4-star defensive tackle from American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla., is planning to wait and sign alongside teammates Tyson Campbell, Patrick Surtain and Andrew Chatfield, who are three of Miami’s top remaining targets.
While Miami isn’t worried about Blades flipping elsewhere either way, the defensive back signing his national letter of intent would be a strong symbolic gesture. Blades is the highest-ranked member of the strong incoming secondary group and a vocal leader of sorts in the class.
— ⚜Al Blades⚜ (@AlBlades_Jr) December 16, 2017
Even though he won’t enroll early, Blades feels prepared to get on campus.
“I just think everyone’s ready to come in,” Blades said.
When he arrives, Blades will join three other defensive backs from his class who already have been working for the spring semester. Blades is one of four 4-star secondary prospects in this class alongside cornerbacks Gilbert Frierson and D.J. Ivey, and safety Gurvan Hall.
The No. 10 Hurricanes did, however, lose another top defensive back during the weekend. Josh Jobe, a 4-star cornerback, flipped his commitment from Miami to No. 4 Alabama during an official visit in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
There is no concern about the strength of the group, though. All four should have a chance to compete for early playing time, particularly if defensive back Michael Jackson heads to the NFL.
“I can’t wait to compete with those guys. It’s going to be a lot of fun times,” Blades said. “We all talk a lot. D.J.’s quiet, but when he’s on the field I’ve heard him talk, too. I just think it’s going to be very fun to compete against the receivers when we all come in.”
One of Blades’ biggest takeaways from the weekend was the time he spent with current players. Wide receiver Mike Harley hosted Blades and immediately made him feel welcome.
The whole weekend had an interesting vibe in that there was no recruiting going on. Every player is all but locked into his pledge to the Hurricanes, and nearly everyone plans to officially shut down things this week. There was basically no distinction between current players and current recruits. Everyone was already part of the Miami family.
“We all saw each other as one,” Blades said. “They didn’t really see us as recruits. We were just all spending time together. Being with the players and all the recruits was just something special.”