Among the things Ryan Taylor did for his birthday was to watch Arkansas State and Central Florida in the Cure Bowl.
It was his introduction to Red Wolves football, a 31-13 victory and a dominating show by the Red Wolves’ defense.
At that time it did not occur to him that team was in his future.
“I just knew they had a functional team and a great defense,’’ said Taylor, a 6-foot-2, 300-pound disruptive defensive lineman from Grayson High School in Loganville (GA).
On Feb. 27, Taylor received an offer from A-State. He visited this past weekend and was the first commit for the 2018 class.
“I’m glad to be a part of it,’’ he said. “I loved Coach (Brian) Early and the D-line. They're physically imposing, fast tempo, extremely competitive and they treat each other like brothers. It felt like home.”
Taylor and his family made the drive from Georgia to Jonesboro for his first visit.
“The first thing that stuck out was all the land and thought it would be the most boring place but the closer I got to the school the more I liked it,’’ he said.
He has already received an offer from Coastal Carolina while Wake Forest, Georgia State, Samford, UAB, UCF, Georgia Tech, Mercer and Eastern Kentucky are staying in contact.
Everything changed when he got to Jonesboro.
“I was not going to commit, had no plan to,’’ he said. “The education; it's a up coming football that's already great and I was sold.”
Brian Early and running backs coach Norvell McKenzie, a Georgia native, were the main recruiters on Taylor. He said he did not know any of the players but spent time with signee Josh Curry, defensive lineman from Arizona Western who visited last week during spring break, during Saturday’s scrimmage.
Taylor is ranked the No. 139 player by Recruit Georgia in its North Georgia Top 250.
Taylor is considering trying wrestling and lacrosse.
Grayson captured the Class 7A state title and Rams finished sixth nationally in the high school football rankings operated by MaxPreps, a CBSSports.com site.
Grayson (14-1) lost its season opener to fourth-ranked IMG Academy of Bradenton, Fla., but defeated No. 46 Roswell 23-20 in overtime to give the Rams their first state crown since 2011.