Playmaking cornerback Al Blades Jr. announced Sunday that he's going to continue his football career at Miami starting in 2018.
He shared the news on his Twitter page:
Blades is a 4-star prospect who rates as the No. 33 overall cornerback in the class of 2018, according to the Scout.com player rankings. He also checks in as the No. 18 cornerback in the south and the ninth-best CB among the incoming group from the state of Florida.
The St. Thomas Aquinas High School standout is a quick-twitch athlete who moves around the field with terrific fluidity. He's already started to showcase an advanced ability to read the play, which, when combined with his ball skills, should turn him into a ball hawk over time.
Physicality is the one area he'll need to improve moving forward. He currently possesses a 6'0", 170-pound frame. There's still time for him to grow into the preferred 6'3" range as teams seek bigger corners, but adding more bulk will be important.
Increasing his overall power would allow him to provide more consistent production in run support and improve his play at the line in tight man coverage. Those are two weaknesses at this stage.
Blades' skill set is still highly impressive, though. Sleeper Athletes provided a look at his footwork:
It comes as no surprise he's been on the recruiting radar for a while as the son of former University of Miami star safety Al Blades. But he told State of the U's Shane Kinnee in August that didn't necessarily give the Hurricanes an advantage as he explored his numerous options:
"My father attending Miami doesn't play a factor in my recruitment. It just makes people think I should go there. I don't have a leader or top five, but they will be up there. Miami, Florida State, Florida and Alabama are standing out but those are just a few."
In the end, he still landed with the Canes despite receiving widespread interest from top programs around the country. There are always pros and cons of being a legacy recruit, but he did his homework and decided this was the best overall fit.
Trying to figure out exactly how a recruit will fit in this far in advance comes with a lot of margin for error. That said, there's always more room in the secondary rotation, and Miami could still be looking to fill some holes in 2018 after needing to fill several voids for 2017.