Quin Blanding has been playing varsity football since his freshman year of high school. According to the 247Sports composite ranking, he is now the No. 1 safety in the 2014 recruiting class.
Blanding, the No. 9 recruit in the country, has been committed to Virginia since February of 2014.
He checks in at 6'2'', 200 pounds and runs a 4.50 40, according to 247Sports. Because of his size, he'll be able to play strong in the box and be a big-time run defender, but his quickness will allow him to patrol the deep zones in pass coverage.
In a recent wide-ranging phone interview with Bleacher Report, Blanding talked about his game, the players in the NFL he most resembles and the relative strength of the ACC vs. the SEC.
In your opinion, why are you the No. 1 safety in the nation?
Quin Blanding: My IQ for the game. Many people, when they watch me play, they say I'm the quarterback of the defense. So, every call that needs to be made, every change—I can call it and see it at the same time, and just react to it.
Many people say that's my greatest skill, and I think that is my greatest skill. I see things that my coaches don't even see sometimes. Sometimes I'm right. I might be wrong sometimes, but I still give 100 percent effort.
Can you explain a situation when you've seen something that maybe your coaches couldn't see?
QB: There are calls that they call and we can stay in it, and it will work fine, but it's hard for them to see what I see because I'm on the field. Like, when they motion and do all the crazy routes, I can check off all the routes and change the defensive play to fit their route schemes.
As a safety, would you rather make a big hit or get an interception?
QB: I'm more of an interception guy. I'm not scared of contact at all—that's what it's all about—but when you get an interception, it's better. When you get the big hit, that's your highlight. But you get an interception, you get a chance to make another highlight by scoring with it, but also you still get the ball. That's what's better about it.
What does it feel like when you get a pick?
QB: I turn into offense so quick. I know what to do on offense, I play receiver too. It's natural to me. I know to catch it, and I know I gotta go.
Which NFL or college player would you compare yourself to?
QB: Everybody says with my physical ability I play like Taylor Mays, and then some nights I play like Ed Reed because I just sit back and go attack the ball and catch picks. It would probably have to be like, Brian Dawkins. It would probably be a mix between all of them.
You have offers from Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, etc. Why did you turn down all of those powerhouse programs to commit to Virginia?
QB: I feel like where I come from, this is where I want to stand up for. This is where I want to go from, and I want other people to go from here.
You don't have to pick a top-notch school. With me not going there, they still have somebody right there that's on the depth chart that's still up there with me. So, they can be the next player.
Some people say 'Oh yeah, I'm No. 1, I'm a 5-star. I'm going to play right away.' Some big-time programs, they won't play you right away, or they just don't fit your style of defense.
I feel with Virginia, we're going to be on the upside of things. Not saying we're going to right away go win the national championship. Not saying we're going to right away in the ACC championship, but we're going to go compete for those.