Taylor Emerges as Big-Time Prospect

Phillip Taylor has been a big kid throughout his life. Ironically, that massive size delayed Taylor from playing a single down of football until he was a freshman at Gwynn Park High in Brandywine, Md.

“When Phillip was like 10 or 11, with his height and size, he would have to play with the 14 and 15 year olds,” Taylor’s mother, Kimberly Taylor, said. “If I would let him play with the 14 and 15 year olds, [the league] would waive the insurance on him. I didn’t want to take that chance of him getting hurt because he wasn’t playing with his age group.”

Taylor’s mother and father, Phillip Sr., did not allow their son to play with the older kids. Football would have to wait. However, it did not take long after he took up football before Taylor’s potential as a dominating defensive tackle was noticed. After watching Taylor weight train and practice on the field, Gwynn Park coach Danny Hayes predicted that Taylor’s recruitment would one day rival the hype of blue-chip linebacker and current Maryland linebacker Wesley Jefferson. Hayes was right.

At 6-foot-4 and 340 pounds, Taylor is currently ranked the No. 16 defensive tackle in the nation according to Scout.com and is being pursued by many of the nation’s top programs, including Penn State. Despite a four-star rating and a long list of offers, Taylor continues to try to improve his stock.

“I think I’m underrated,” Taylor said. “At the Elite College Combine, I was named the most valuable player, but I still think I’m underrated.”

Make no mistake; Taylor is neither cocky nor unappreciative of the attention he has received from the media and fans. In fact, he is a quiet kid and a man of few words despite his hulking frame. Rather, he expressed a determination to continually compete against the nation’s best talent at combines and camps. Taylor has done just that.

At one combine, Taylor went up against blue-chip offensive lineman J.B. Walton, another prospect from Maryland who Penn State has offered. How did the match up turn out?

“I went up against J.B. Walton and he couldn’t even touch me,” Taylor joked. “He couldn’t even get out of his three-point stance.”

But as his mom quickly pointed out, Taylor is a well-rounded competitor on the field, and a caring and compassionate person off the field.

“Phillip has a good heart,” Kimberly said. “As a matter of fact, he works with a lot of little kids. Phillip works with a group called ‘Kids in Trouble,’ which has different team mediation groups and they talk to other kids to encourage them to stay in school. He also helps me around the house and he’s very good to his 6-year-old sister.”

With his work for Kids in Trouble, Taylor speaks to school-aged children and discusses the importance of balancing academics and sports. The focus of Taylor’s speeches is to encourage children to remain in school in order to pursue their dreams of playing sports in college.

“Basically we talk about how football influences people,” Taylor said. “If it wasn’t for football, some people would be on the street. We tell the kids that without grades, you can’t play football.”

Taylor is not the only elite prospect who is involved with Kids in Trouble. Fellow Maryland star Antonio Logan-El, another prospect PSU is after, also volunteers his time with Taylor to speak to children about sports and academics.

“Me and Antonio Logan El are close friends,” Taylor said. “He asked me if I would help him with [Kids in Trouble].”

Do not expect a decision from Taylor anytime soon, as he indicated he intends to make his decision either toward the end of his high school season or once his season is over. He has no favorites but lists Penn State, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Florida and Oklahoma as contenders.

For Kimberly, who has traveled with Phillip on trips to Virginia, Ohio State, Penn State and Maryland over the past few months, academics are a main concern.

“[The family] is on the same page,” Kimberly said. “I was pretty impressed with Penn State and Maryland. All of the schools were very impressive. But to me, Penn State and Maryland stood out the most. For me, I’m more so looking at the academic part of the schools. I’m going to leave it up to Phillip, but it’s really overwhelming. For me, it’s all about the academics of the school. The football is important too because I want him to be happy. We didn’t even plan a family vacation because we spent the whole summer visiting schools.”

Taylor said that his family’s input will weigh heavily on his decision.

“My family will be a big factor, because they don’t want to go hours and hours away to see me play,” Taylor said. “That’s why under five hours to travel would be good.”

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr. is recruiting Taylor for the Nittany Lions.

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