Former UM Player Al Blades Killed In Auto Accident
March 20, 2003
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (www.hurricanesports.com) – Al Blades, a former University of Miami defensive back on the Hurricanes’ football team, died in an auto accident Wednesday night in Miami-Dade County. Blades attended Plantation High School and played football for the Hurricanes from 1996 to 2000. He also spent two years in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.
“The University of Miami is deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our former football players, Al Blades,” said Miami head football coach Larry Coker. “Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the Blades family.”
Al Blades was the vocal leader of Miami’s secondary during much of his UM career. He developed a reputation at UM as one of college football’s hardest hitting safeties and earned first-team All-BIG EAST Conference honors as a senior in 2000 when he was awarded the team’s Hard Hitter Award by the coaching staff (he also won the award in 1999). Blades was second on the team in tackles in Miami’s 11-1 season of 2000 with 87 stops. For his career, Blades had 258 tackles (125 solos), four fumble recoveries, forced two fumbles, intercepted three passes and broke up 10 passes. He was named the National Defensive Player of the Week for his 16-tackle performance against Virginia Tech on Nov. 4, 2000, a 41-21 victory by the Hurricanes.
Blades signed with Miami in the spring of 1996 and earned varsity letters in 1998, 1999 and 2000. He sat out the 1996 season with a medical redshirt. In 1997, Blades missed the entire season after suffering a knee injury during the first fall practice. He returned to action in 1998, making his UM debut with a solid season in which he was fourth on the team with 82 tackles. His sophomore season, in which he started seven games, was highlighted by a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown against Rutgers.
In 1999, Blades cemented the starting job at free safety and racked up 89 tackles to rank third on the Hurricanes. A second-team All-BIG EAST performer, Blades garnered double-digit tackle totals in five of 11 games that season, including a season-best 13 tackles against Florida State. His 20 tackles against Syracuse that season was the most of his career.
Blades started the final 32 games of his Miami career. His final Orange Bowl appearance was a memorable one as he was credited with a season-high 17 tackles in a UM rout of Boston College on Nov. 25, 2000. He was a free agent signee with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and played for the 49ers in 2001 and 2002.
Al Blades’ older brothers, Bennie and Brian, also played football at UM. Brian was a wide receiver for the Hurricanes from 1984-87 and played for 12 seasons in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. Bennie lettered for UM from 1985-87 and was an All-America safety in 1986 and 1987. Bennie was the co-winner of the Jim Thorpe Award in 1987 as the nation’s top defensive back and went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL with the Detroit Lions (1988-96) and the Seattle Seahawks (1997-98).