Taylor helps hold Brown in check

LAURINBURG, N.C. -- When a player starts the season with four sacks and a blocked punt, as Hilee Taylor did last week, it is hard to believe that an encore performance of eight tackles, one forced fumble, and a tackle for loss could even be noteworthy. When that encore comes while holding one of the state's top running backs, Andre Brown, to 76 yards on 20 carries, those numbers reach a whole new level of significance.

Hilee Taylor

"He's a monster, man," said Brown of Scotland County's 6-4, 206-pound defensive star.

Taylor, while failing to record a sack in his second game of the season, still demonstrated the ability to shed larger blockers and wreak havoc in the backfield, which has become his trademark. While Scotland County lost the game, 26-14, against Brown's highly ranked J.H. Rose squad, Taylor -- or the Scotland defense -- can hardly be faulted. Turnovers deep in the Scotland County half were the key to this game, combined with a 76 yard kickoff return by Brown.

One of the primary questions UNC fans have had about Taylor is what position he will play at UNC. With his 6-4 frame and remarkable speed (a consistent 4.5 in the 40, according to Taylor), many have maintained dreams of a rush defensive end in the Julius Peppers mold.

Scotland County defensive line coach Tom Paris sees a different ex-UNC star as the model for Taylor's development, however. Hilee (pronounced "High-Lee") and his chosen comparison happen to share a surname.

"At the next level, he'll probably start out as an outside linebacker type who can step up and put his hand down and rush the passer if needed," Paris said. "He knows he'll have to gain weight, but I think he can be a Lawrence Taylor type player. I can see him growing into that role. He's a young kid with the ability to put on so much more muscle mass, and with his willingness to work so hard in the weight room and his level of character, he'll succeed."

Paris, as astute a position coach as you will encounter in high school football, hits on the primary problem area in Taylor's game: weight. At 206 pounds, his body is clearly unready for the physical nature of the college game.

Taylor, often double teamed by larger offensive linemen, uses great positioning and leverage to succeed in the trenches at the high school level. He is very well coached, and is able to use his speed, quick feet, and understanding of the game to overcome the limitations of his slight frame against high school competition.

This simply won't be possible at UNC without added mass.

While Taylor, who has qualified on the SAT, defers any question of what position he will play in college to his future coaching staff, when asked his personal preference he responds quickly with "Defensive end, hopefully, but it doesn't matter as long as I play."

With grades not a problem and a 6-4 frame to work with, Taylor may eventually get his wish. Before that can happen, he will have to work as hard as he can with UNC's strength & conditioning coach, Jeff Connors, to pack on the pounds, and spend two seasons (and a potential redshirt year) at WILL.

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