Alontae Taylor provided a shocking moment to Tennessee coaches this week.
The Coffee County (Tenn.) High School quarterback from the 2018 class gave Vols aides his verbal commitment to suit up for the Big Orange.
“It was kind of hard to explain,” Taylor told InsideTennessee. “It was kind of shocking to them for a little bit and they just got really happy and started showing me even more love. When I got on campus, they showed me a lot of love, but after that, it got wild. I got out there, watched them do one-on-ones. Coach Z (Zach Azzanni) let me talk to some of the receivers and things like that. So, it was kind of shocking to them, too.”
The reason for passing on programs like Georgia Tech, Kentucky and Vanderbilt in favor of the Orange & White was simple.
“It’s home,” Taylor said. “I think that’s something that’s really big — playing in-state — because I understand I could go somewhere else and I would have the same support from my family and a few friends. But it wouldn’t be the same support if I was to stay in state and go to Tennessee.”
The Manchester native originally committed to Vanderbilt back on Oct. 6, 2015. Switching gears to another Southeastern Conference in-state program, Taylor said he is “110-percent” committed” to Tennessee and can move forward without worry.
“It’s amazing,” Taylor said. “We’re on our last week of summer practices as far as the high school team goes next week. So being able to get this commitment out and let it be out there, I can now focus on high school and focus on trying to get us a state championship ring and focus on my academics and things like that. I don’t have to worry about any college coaches coming to watch me play or nothin.
“My recruiting process is officially closed. Schools can still come in and things like that, but I’m going to the University of Tennessee, no doubt. Nothing can change my mind.”
Tennessee defensive backs coach Willie Martinez made his way to Coffee County this spring to see Taylor practice. Passing game coordinator Azzanni moved into the lead role in recruiting the two-way athlete to Rocky Top as Taylor was told he’s likely to start his career on The Hill at wide receiver.
“I’ve been hearing a lot more now from coach Z than coach Martinez, but I was told yesterday — because I came up to one of the camps to watch — that I was going to have a few packages on defense but my primary position was going to be wide receiver.
“I think (wide receiver) is great; I just want to do whatever helps the team. I know that Tennessee is short on receivers by the time I will get there. So, come in, work, get on the field as a freshman, and make big plays.”
Taylor joins Scout four-star offensive tackle prospect Cade Mays as future Volunteers in the 2018 class.
“We communicate all the time,” Taylor said. “I talked to him on the way here (to Knoxville), and I was hanging out with him (Thursday), too.”
Taylor ran the football 203 times last season for 1,676 yards with 17 touchdowns. He and Coffee County open up their season in a rivalry contest at Tullahoma on Aug. 19. He provided a glimpse at what Vols fans will see down the road when he runs onto Shields-Watkins Field.
“A guy that a has a great work ethic, a player who’s going to give it his all, someone who’s out there for business,” Taylor said. “Somebody that’s going to make big plays — I always finish every play. Mainly somebody that’s going to win and is going to give whatever it takes to win, regardless of who we play, regardless if it’s a small school or big school. Just out there to win and try to get to the SEC championship.”
Taylor expressed excitement to watch Team 120 this fall and said he plans to attend “every home game.”