It would seem that as the years go by, recruits are starting to commit sooner than they ever have before. Probably more to do with the fact that recruiting coverage has become almost mainstream in its coverage, the super-preps around the country aren't waiting for that inevitable crush of media attention to start.
For O'Dea high school's Taylor Mays, he doesn't have to wait for the attention to start. It already has, much to his surprise. "I wasn't expecting it this early, not in February," Mays said of the attention from both schools and the media. "I was thinking that if it came, it would be during my senior year."
While it might still amaze some that recruiting has become a monster of sorts when it comes to the attention some preps are getting even before they are seniors, when you look at what Mays has already done in his brief career, it wouldn't be hard to figure out why he's already one of the hotter prospects on the west coast.
That's what happens when you take almost a third of your receptions in for touchdowns, Mays scoring 7 times on a total of 25 receptions with the run-happy fighting irish of O'Dea. On defense is where Taylor had most of his opportunities and he took advantage of them, tallying almost 60 tackles, grabbing 5 interceptions, while breaking up 5 more passes and recovering a fumble along the way. His over 30-yard average on punt returns, including 3 scores doesn't hurt either.
Wrap that athleticism up in a 6 foot, 3 inch, 215 pound frame that gallops along at a reported 4.4 second pace in the forty and yeah, the early attention isn't a surprise, it's a no-brainer.
Because of the 11 reported offers Taylor has right now, his attitude towards recruiting has changed, at least in regards to how he's approaching the rest of his off-season. There's almost a sense of urgency here as Taylor now has a glimpse of just what kind of frenzy is going to be stirring around him from colleges across the country, including the media that follow those particular teams.
That's not something he's wanting to take into his final year of football if he can help it. "It would be nice to have a decision out of the way before my last season starts," Mays said. "I don't really want this kind of distraction during my final season."
"If I have to, I'll take as long as I need, but I'm hoping to at least have a pretty narrow list by the time my final season starts."
The narrowing of that list better start soon as it's growing dramatically by the week. The most recent to add on to the ever-expanding pile have been Southern California and just this last Thursday, UCLA. That list, of course, is only going to get longer as Mays sets out this Summer to visit some of the other teams he's looked at as prospects for the future. "I'm hoping to visit Michigan, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Miami (FL) and maybe some others," Taylor said. "If I could, I'd visit everyone, but I know that's not going to be possible."
What is possible is that some of the aforementioned teams might also be candidates for Taylor attending their camp, but he's unsure as to his own team's camp schedule, so won't make any commitments to any mid-year camps just yet.
About that early commitment, or at least, the hope for one, Taylor said that the schools he'll look at as the final list will all be those with good traditions, solid academics and have a staff that he's comfortable with. Also, there's this little thing about the fact that Mays is a two-way star now and he's leaning pretty heavily right now in trying to do that at the collegiate level as well.
Schools have been responsive to that for the most part, Taylor said, so it's something that he's thinking about more and more everyday. "I like what I bring on both sides," he said. "On offense, I'm physical enough to get off man-coverage and fast enough to be a weapon deep and on defense, my size really helps, plus I am quick at closing on the ball."
"It's just something I would like to do."
For the Michigan and Nebraska fans of the world, they'll take great comfort in knowing that neither distance nor a little cold weather is a deterrent in his evaluation process. Those schools not residing on the west coast will also take some solace in knowing that despite the fact that both his parents are alumni of the University of Washington, his dad even playing for the Huskies, his decision in the end will be all his own.
No, the only question here is time and just how much time each school will have in trying to woo one of Washington's best. For now, it would appear that if a program wants a serious shot at Taylor Mays, they had better get going, because the clock is steadily ticking. It's not a given that Taylor will indeed make an early decision, but if everything works out right, his future choice will be a thing of the past when his final season of prep-football begins.