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PAC-12 schools are chasing after 2017 standout Elijah Gates

Photo by Lorenzo Reyna

From the moment Elijah Gates burned defensive backs at wide receiver or locked up the opposition’s best target on defense, the Buena Park High athlete was bound to become a wanted prospect for the Class of 2017 recruiting period.

Sure enough, nine different college football programs have leaped into the Gates sweepstakes by offering him a scholarship, and four of those schools hail from the PAC-12.

Gates – who shined playing both ways for the Coyotes last season – currently holds offers from Arizona State, UCLA, Washington State and Oregon out west.

“It’s a blessing (to get these offers),” Gates said.” I’ve come a long way with grinding from my freshman year to now. I just stayed with the course and it’s a blessing.”

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior finished 2015-16 by leading the team with 10 touchdowns on 33 catches. His 747 receiving yards placed him in second among Coyote players. But while Gates gave opposing defensive coaches some late night headaches on Fridays, he was equally formidable on defense.

Gates would use those same arms he utilized on offense to swat away passes or get physical during press coverage. He emerged as the Coyotes’ No. 1 shutdown cornerback, which has gotten one PAC-12 program interested in his defensive adroitness.

“Oregon likes me as a defensive back,” Gates said. “They love how I tackle in space.”

The local university that is on him, UCLA, has one coach who shares a previous connection with him and the Gates household: defensive backs coach Demetrius Martin.

“My family has known him for a long time. We’re from the same city, actually,” Gates said.

That town is Pasadena, where Martin starred at powerhouse John Muir High School and where Gates spent most of his childhood.

The Ducks and Bruins were two of his latest offers, with Oregon offering him on Feb. 12 and UCLA coming through with its pledge four days later. Gates speaks highly of both schools.

“From what I’ve heard, Oregon and UCLA are great schools and those two I’m closely looking at,” Gates said.

But that doesn’t mean that he plans on committing to one or the other right away. Gates plans to end his already intensifying recruiting period in Feb. 2017.

“It’ll be around National Signing Day (when I make my decision). I want to make sure I take all my visits. That’s very important,” Gates said. “I’ll probably check out a few games. I want to experience the environments, the coaches and do my research about the schools. When I make my commitment, I want to make the decision that’s right for me and that’s why I want to wait until National Signing Day.”

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Lorenzo Reyna

Lorenzo Reyna hails from the California's Central Coast, but has a bevy of experience with covering some fast-rising athletes from all over the Golden State. He's a former sports editor for The Reedley Exponent newspaper. His other credits include scout.com and nflevolution.com.
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