Taden Blaise has been training with NFA since he was 7 years old, and he’s attened almost more camps than he can recall.
Now entering his junior year in high school, Blaise still remembers the first camp he attended. It was at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
“Coach (Darin) Slack was there and he asked all of us, ‘Who wants to play college football?’” Blaise said. “I raised my little hand as high as I could.”
It was a dream back then, but Blaise is well on his way to making it a reality.
That’s not to suggest his journey to the next level has been easy. Just like football, real life often presents challenges that must be overcome in order to ensure success.
Blaise has already optioned his way through a series of challenges while achieving remarkable success.
As a freshman, he was the starting varsity quarterback at Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver.
“I came into a rebuilding program with a new coaching staff and a lot of new kids,” Blaise said. “On the offense, 9 of the 11 starters were freshmen. But we all came in and had high hopes.”
In his first varsity start, against Littleton, Blaise set Denver Public School records for most passing yards in a game with over 320 and the longest completed pass, 88 yards. “That was really cool,” he said.
Through his first four games at Thomas Jefferson, Blaise was the leading freshman passer in the nation. In the fifth game, his season came to an abrupt halt.
“I was on track to break Colorado state records for passing yards and touchdowns,” Blaise said. “Due to some complications, nothing I did on or off the field, administrative issues I guess you could say, it didn’t happen. I couldn’t stop it, and I couldn’t help it.”
So Blaise and his family relocated to Florida, and he played at powerhouse Apopka High School last season as a sophomore and was a member of the Class 8A state champions.
“I didn’t start, but I played a lot,” said Blaise, who passed for nearly 600 yards and rushed for over 100 with Apopka. “It was a very high class, traditional school with some really good guys and people I will look up to for the rest of my life. The head coach Rick Darlington, he is a great person, a great coach. I learned a lot.”
‘Excited for what’s ahead’
When his family had to relocate back to Colorado, Blaise landed at Chaparral High School, and he is preparing for his junior season.
“We have a team with high hopes,” Blaise said. “Coming back to Colorado, it’s big. This year is a good year for me. I hope I get the chance to help this team get to the playoffs. I’m excited for what’s ahead for me and for my team this season.”
To prepare for his junior season, Blaise played for Team USA, he’ll play in the International Game next summer and he also received an invite to play at the National Underclassmen Combine.
Blaise also received an invite to his second Duel this summer and he finished first among incoming juniors at NFA’s showcase event.
“I was third at the Duel last year, so to finish first is an incredible achievement for me,” Blaise said. “It defintely added to my persona as a quarterback. It was really cool because it put me on the map a little more.”
Deep NFA roots
Blaise has been attending NFA camps since he was 7 years old.
“They have bee huge for me,” he said. “I came in as the youngest you can be with NFA, I was almost 8. I was young for my grade. I kept going and going and going to NFA camps and I’ve been to over 60. I’ve also done a lot of training with coach Slack in Florida. All in all, they have been a huge influence on me.”
While he is focused on his junior season at Chaparral, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Blaise is also preparing himself to play QB in college.
“It’s becoming more and more of a reality every day,” he said. “I’m very excited to have the chance to play in college. I have many schools that are interested in me coming to visit. It’s no longer just my young kid dream. In a few years, I’ll be off and will sitting in dorm rooms with guys a lot bigger than me. It is going to be great.”