|Elijah Gates could soon become a hot commodity on the recruiting trail because of his play making ability on defense. He's also the young cousin of future NFL draft pick Shaq Thompson (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).|
He turns to a prominent college football name who happens to be in the Gates’ family tree: Shaq Thompson, who’s a future NFL draft pick and former University of Washington star.
“My cousin is Shaq,” Gates said. “I have a lot of football conversations with him. We have a good relationship. He tells me to stay focused, keep my grades up and stay on the right path.”
Gates, who will suit up for Orange County powerhouse Buena Park High in the fall, is now surfacing as a top playmaking high school defensive back in California; just like his cousin back in 2011-12.
|Gates swerves to his left during an interception at Passing Down's So Cal regional on March 29 in Fontana (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).|
At Passing Down’s So Cal regional on March 29 in Fontana, Gates - who’s a Class of 2017 prospect - flew to the football like a hawk locating its prey and used both of his hands to snatch the rock. Along with his reaction skills, Gates showed off his big play capability by running past and juking out defenders with the ball in his hands after an interception was made.
Gates said the cornerback position is where he’s played all of his life, but added he goes both ways too. He also discussed what his strengths are.
“My ball skills,” Gates said. “I’m very good about locating the ball. I’m also good at pressing. But there’s still a lot of things I need to work on.”
Gates, who played varsity football as a sophomore at Alemany High of Mission Hills last season, said “working on my breaks and attacking more” are two areas he would like to improve on.
He not only came to Fontana’s Ralph Lewis Sports Park seeking to get exposure on the recruiting trial, but so did his club team Rize Up.
The 7on7 unit comprised of 2017 and ‘19 players. But the young squad went from Passing Down newcomer to Best of the West qualifier. Rize Up stunned the 56-team field by clinching the No. 1 seed in the Instinct Pod and then finished 5-1 overall, earning a top eight spot and a future appearance in the BOTW tournament at Fullerton College on April 26.
“We did an excellent job. I’m very happy with my teammates and how they came out,” Gates said. “We’re a young team, but all of this competition will make us better over the years. We’re determined. We really wanted it. Anything we need to do, we’re going to go get it. We’re a new powerhouse.”
With nearly one month to prepare for the BOTW, Gates will also use his spare time to seek out his first scholarship offer; something his renown cousin Thompson did while he was in high school. Thompson ended up with 11 scholarship offers before settling on the Huskies in December of 2012.
Has Gates received any collegiate love?
“Not yet,” Gates said. “But I know they’re coming.”