For the majority of his life, DeMatha’s (Hyattsville, Md.) Kellon Taylor envisioned a career on the hardwood, the 6-foot-5, 195-pound wing throwing down dunks and knocking down triples. And, really, there was no reason to doubt that future. After all, Taylor shined as a youth with his D.C. Thunder AAU squad before taking his talents to powerhouse DeMatha, where he’s starred under renowned coach Mike Jones.
Taylor never really thought much about football, except for maybe a game of two-hand touch with his friends here and there. But two years ago a few of Taylor’s friends urged him to don shoulder pads and a helmet, noting how well his length and athleticism would translate to the gridiron.
The then-junior Taylor opted to give the game a try, but, admittedly, he didn’t immediately take to it. Although Taylor had a spot on Elijah Brooks’ varsity squad, his route running was raw, his hands inconsistent and his field awareness lacking. But the potential was readily evident, Taylor flashing a long stride and plenty of quickness to go along with that wide wingspan.
A year later, Taylor’s taken off in earnest.
After an offseason spent building up his body, working on his mechanics and developing his overall game during 7-on-7 tournaments, Taylor earned a starting spot heading into his senior season. He responded by becoming quarterback Beau English’s go-to target, a key cog on DeMatha’s nationally-touted squad.
“I think everything is just coming along for me, so much better than last year,” said Taylor, who has procured football offers from Temple, Boston College, Toledo, Kent State and ODU. “Last year it really took me some time to get things down. I had so much to learn, because I’d never really played before. But this year I really worked and I’ve gotten into a rhythm with my quarterback. Everything has been falling into place for me.”
Through 10 games, Taylor had pulled down 30 passes for 400 yards and three touchdowns. His DeMatha squad just defeated St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) in the first round of the WCAC playoffs, securing a spot in the conference-title game Nov. 22 at Maryland’s Byrd Stadium.
“It’s been a great season so far. I really have been attacking the ball better, finding ways to get open and my IQ has gotten so much better,” Taylor said. “I’ve done a good job creating in open space and making plays. But there’s still a lot I have to work on. I have to work on my blocking and toughness, I have to work on exploding out of my routes, I have to work on route running in general and I have to keep getting stronger.”
Indeed, Taylor still has a ways to go, but he’s done enough to pique the interest of numerous FBS programs. Now, Taylor is keen on doing a career reversal, putting hoops on the backburner (he still laces up for DeMatha) in favor of football.
“I’m blessed to have an opportunity to play college football at a high level. Temple has been in there, Boston College has been with me for awhile, and now Maryland; Indiana; and Illinois are showing interest,” Taylor said. “I know I’m going to Temple Nov. 28 for a visit, and I’m thinking about BC too. I’ll also probably get up to Maryland at some point, but that’s really close and I’ve been there a few times.”
Yes, the hometown school has recently renewed its pursuit of the DeMatha wideout. Taylor caught UMD receivers’ coach Keenan McCardell’s and area recruiter Mike Locksley’s eye during a summer 7-on-7, but the Terps opted not to offer. Then, when Maryland filled up its 2016 receiver spots with Taylor’s two DeMatha teammates, D.J. Turner and Tino Ellis, in addition to Foster’s (Richmond, Texas) Evan Fair, Taylor fell off the radar, so to speak.
“Coach McCardell actually just [direct messaged] me on Twitter recently and Maryland is back in contact again,” Taylor said. “They haven’t offered yet, but they’re interested. I think they need another receiver in this class, so they’re giving me a look. Hopefully [the offers] comes through.”
If the Terps do ante up, Taylor said the hometown school would immediately become one of his main options. He said he doesn’t hold a grudge against UMD for not going after him earlier.
“If Maryland offered, it would definitely be one of my top schools. It would be huge,” Taylor said. “My teammates are going there, Tino, D.J. and LoLo [Harrison] love it there, and I’d love to play for the local school. The DMV movement, it would be an honor to be apart of that. It’s a great opportunity to play for your hometown school.”
Taylor went on to say that his mother was going to play basketball at Maryland before suffering an injury. She still attended school in College Park, Md., however, and her fandom apparently trickled down to her son.
“I’m a Maryland fan; it’s a school I grew up watching,” Taylor said. “It’s a great school, it’s close to home and I’m comfortable up there. If I went there, my family would be able to see me play and I’d be playing with all my friends.”
The DeMatha product admitted his interest would be contingent on interim head coach Mike Locksley’s presence in College Park. Taylor said he “really hopes” Locksley is there and the hometown movement continues.
“But Maryland isn’t the only school I’d look at,” said Taylor, who has been to Georgia, UMD and Temple previously. “I wouldn’t just commit if they offered. I’d take some time to think about it with my family. I mean, I really like Temple. They were my first offer, I’ve been up there a few times, Coach [Matt] Rhule is a great coach, and they’re winning. And I’m looking at BC too, that’s another school that’s on me. So we just have to see how it plays out.”