Arkansas Razorbacks, Michael Taylor appeal NCAA for extra year

Arkansas is hopeful the appeal will be approved.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas is trying to gain another year of eligibility for Michael Taylor, head coach Bret Bielema announced Saturday.

Taylor, a transfer from Riverside C.C. in California, joined the Razorbacks with three years to play, but had to sit out last season when the NCAA denied his eligibility because of paperwork issues.

"We've got a waiver and an appeal going in," Bielema said. "So he has two years for sure and we're going to cross our fingers and try to get him a third one as well."

Junior college transfers typically have only three years to play two, meaning they have a redshirt year available in addition to the two years they can actually play.

Taylor began his collegiate career as a track athlete at North Carolina Central before transferring to Coffeyville (Kan.) C.C. for a semester. After just one semester at Coffeyville, he transferred to Riverside, where he made 50 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss in 2015.

His year at North Carolina Central and Coffeyville C.C. was essentially a redshirt season because he didn't play football. In 2015, he was a redshirt freshman at Riverside.

If the NCAA denies Arkansas' appeal, Taylor will be a junior this season and a fifth-year senior in 2018. If the appeal is approved, in 2019 Taylor could become the Razorbacks' second sixth-year senior under Bielema, joining running back Kody Walker.

Regardless, Bielema said he was excited to see him play in the scrimmage Saturday, his first live action with tackling since arriving on campus last fall.

"I've been impressed with him during drills, but this is the first tackle football he's played," Bielema said. "I think he has to get used to setting that edge, playing with his hands."

Taylor came to Arkansas as a defensive end and played there on the scout team during the 2016 season, but he has converted to the "Hog" outside linebacker position in the Razorbacks' new 3-4 scheme this spring.

"He knocked Devwah (Whaley) pretty hard on Thursday's practice, who almost knocked into our quarterback," Bielema said. "So I know his aggression is good. It's just continued reps, but I'm pleased with where he's at."

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