Coach Spotlight: Justin Taylor

Stanley Pritchett starred at Atlanta-Douglass in the early 90s before an outstanding career at South Carolina and nine years in the NFL. He turned to coaching at his high school alma mater after his pro career was complete in '04. Pritchett's landed first head coaching job in '08 at Booker T. Washington. Pritchett has a player very similar to himself to coach in Justin Taylor.

"Justin's always been big since he came in as a 9th grader," said Pritchett. "He became a starter for us in the 10th grade and gained 700 yards. That season we used him both on offense and defense. In the off-season, he worked hard, got his body right, got faster, and came in and had a big season as a junior."

Taylor, 5-10, 215 rushed for 1,500 yards in 10 games with 11 touchdowns. He caught 15 balls out of the backfield for 150 yards. He was named 1st team All-Atlanta City Schools and honorable mention All-State (AAA).

"The biggest thing you can say about Justin's game is his strength," Pritchett said. "He plays the game low, at pad level and runs through tackles. He'll get you at least four or five yards every carry and never gets tackled for a loss. He has great balance and stays on his feet."

Arkansas was the first school to offer Taylor last November. Georgia Tech was also offering and a strong candidate. However, when Taylor took a trip to Tuscaloosa for a Junior Day and was offered by the Alabama coaching staff, he readily accepted.

"It was a school Justin was very interested in," said Pritchett. "I think he felt very comfortbale with the coaches. His running style as a power back is similar to what they do at Alabama. Other schools have expressed interest, but he has no plans of going on any visits. Right now, he's concentrating on next season. I can't get him out of the weight room."

Pritchett made the playoffs in his first season at Washington, but has missed going the past two seasons with back-to-back 6-4 records. He's ready for that to change and looking for Taylor to come up big as a senior.

"I'd like to see Justin gain over 2,000 yards and lead us to the state playoffs," Pritchett said. "We've been knocking on the door the last two seasons, but it's time we got over the hump."

Booker T. Washington was the first African-American public secondary school school in Atlanta, established in 1924. Notable alumni include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Singer Lena Horne, and Robert Gibbs, the first African-American to enter and graduate from Harvard. The school promotes academic excellence and achievement and encourage their student body to go to college after high school.

"Justin has great character," said Pritchett. "He's a leader in the classroom. We've had no trouble whatsoever from him. In his studies he's doing very well with a 3.0 GPA."

Pritchett also has Darius Williams, 6-2, 305, with an offer from Western Kentucky, and Terrence Williams, 6-4, 315, to man the Bulldog defensive front in 2011. He expects big things and heavier recruiting attention from those two rising seniors.

Justin Taylor also runs track at Washington. Pritchett reports his best 40 time as a 4.6. He's set to graduate from Washington High in May of 2012.

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