Taylor Following the Plan

CHATHAM, Va. --- While prepping at Hargrave Military Academy this fall, North Carolina verbal commitment Monte Taylor will primarily play tight end – as opposed to defensive end, the position the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder is projected to play at UNC.

"[Tight end] was a need for me," Hargrave head coach Troy Davis said. "… Later on this season, I will give him some looks at defensive end. But one thing I wanted to make sure I had was a big tight end and I was impressed by him when he came to our tryout."

Davis believes Taylor's versatility will allow him to play either position on the collegiate level, while UNC's need will dictate which position Taylor ultimately plays.

"He's becoming a great blocker as a tight end [and] he has soft hands," Davis said. "He's a kid that could go either way [position-wise]. He's a kid that has an upside to him. He's going to end up putting another ten pounds to him."

Despite the focus on tight end, Taylor, who started at both tight end and defensive end while at Springdale (Md.) Flowers High School, says UNC hasn't altered its position projection for him.

"[The UNC coaches] just said to do what I've got to do at Hargrave and they'll take care of the rest when I get to North Carolina," Taylor said.

Unlike some of his Hargrave teammates, Taylor has known he would make a pit stop at Hargrave since January when Larry Fedora presented the plan. The agreement was that UNC would sign Taylor to a Letter of Intent but place him at Hargrave regardless of his qualifying status.

"It was a little easier, because it's real mental," Taylor said. "I've had longer to prepare myself mentally. All my [high school] coaches were like ‘You've got to be mentally prepared for this. It's not a regular school.' So I made sure I had my head straight."

An unintended byproduct of the "sign-and-place" agreement was that the lack of pressure to qualify actually helped Taylor push his SAT score very close to qualifying range while in high school. His focus now is achieving those last few points. He'll take a SAT prep class at Hargrave and retake the test several times this fall.

Taylor's goal and plan is to be qualified by December and enroll at UNC in January.

"I'm not thinking about looking around," Taylor said. "I'm still committed to North Carolina. I'm still Carolina Blue."

As far as Taylor can tell, the feeling is mutual from UNC's end.

"The coaches, they've been calling and keeping in contact with me," Taylor said.

The perception of military schools had Taylor thinking the worst when he envisioned spending a semester at Hargrave. However, in reality the transition wasn't difficult.

"Before I first came here, I thought I would be on my own and it was just going to be me and I wasn't going to talk to anybody," Taylor said. "When I came in, after I talked to a couple people I realized they were in the same position I'm in. I've met a couple nice guys and everybody is trying to do the same thing I'm doing.

"I'm going to push the next person to get to where they need to go. There's competition, but at the same time you have to help your brother. They say once you're at Hargrave, you're a family."

One of the teammates Taylor has bonded with is fellow UNC verbal commitment James Summers. They'll be Hargrave's starting quarterback-tight end connection.

"James and I, we've developed a real close relationship in just a week," Taylor said. "Hopefully by the end of it, we'll be real close friends."

Monte Taylor Profile


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