Location: Atlanta, Ga. – Westlake
Weight: 200 pounds
Recruiting: The Georgia linebacker has been committed to Tennessee for a few months, but was always looking around to make sure he had the right school. Florida entered the picture after his strong performance at the Under Armour game and the Gators is who he will be playing for in the future. He switched his commitment to UF Sunday night.
What to Like: There is a lot to like about Taylor at linebacker. When watching his tape for the first time, his instincts and constantly being around the football stood out to me. I was actually watching film of Alec Ogletree when Newnan played Westlake when I found Taylor. He just has a nose for the football, he will play sideline to sideline, he will make solo tackles, he will clean up if one of his teammates have an opponent slowed down, and he just plays until the whistle blows. Another strength of his is the way he makes tackles. He makes sure the opponent remembers who he him because he pops players. He does a good job of squaring his shoulders and keeping his weight behind his pads until he explodes through the ball carrier. Taylor is a down hill player that knows how to attack, he has great north-south speed, and he really has a good feel for the game. He brings a lot to the table at linebacker.
What may be of concern: His size is one thing that may concern some, but many smaller linebackers are some of the best in their conferences here in the south. Look at Sean Spence at Miami or Rennie Curran at Georgia – both looked small in high school and their size held some offers back, but they are two of the best in the ACC and SEC today. Taylor is pushing 6-feet tall and he is right around 200 pounds now. He can add another good 20-25 pounds and maybe a tad more while keeping his speed, so he will be fine at UF. Playing in space is not a strength of his at this time. He is used to playing in the middle, just running free to the ball, and not having a lot of responsibilities, but when he has been asked to play outside, then he has struggled some. He at times plays a little too aggressive, tackles bad angles, and takes himself out of a play. If he asked to play WILL (weakside LB) at Florida, then he it could take some time to learn the position. He has improved his pass coverage since last season, but he still needs to work on his footwork, the ability to work in the flats, and turning his hips to run with slot receivers or tight ends. Again, that will come with reps and in time if he moves outside.
Overall Analysis: Taylor is a football player number one. He loves the game, he plays the game hard, he is a confident player, and he is a natural leader. He is going to work hard, he is going to practice hard, he is going to go full speed at all times, and he is going to make the defense he is a part of better. He does not have the ideal size, but he has the ideal heart. Striking an opponent is something he loves to do and he is ideally made for the middle linebacker spot. Can he take on the big fullbacks in the SEC on a consistent basis? He has problems shedding blocks now, so only time will tell, but his instincts, his ability to find the ball quickly, and his sure tackling ability make it hard to take him outside farther from the ball. Taylor is one Gator fans will like from the beginning because his heart, his energy, and his desire to be the best.
Chad Simmons is the Recruiting Analyst for the South Region and he can be reached at ChadSimmons@Scout.com.