BUFORD Ga. — Alontae Taylor isn’t sleeping on his skill level because of some star rating or offer list.
The Coffee County (Tenn.) High School quarterback has firm goals of transitioning to wideout on the next level and earning a spot on the field sooner rather than later.
“I’ve been putting in a whole lot of work at receiver, I’m talking a whole lot of work early in the mornings, late at nights just because I know that’s where I’m going to play on the next level,” Taylor told InsideTennessee at The Opening Atlanta last Sunday. “When you play at big levels like I’m getting recruited at, you have to be good. If you’re trying to go somewhere and go in and play — all athletes want to go somewhere and play — so I want to get in to Tennessee and I want to have a chance to play but I can’t go in there being dry. So I put in a whole lot of work at receiver and now today’s the day I can actually see all that work that I’ve put in develop and come out here and do what I’ve got to do.”
The Tennessee assistant coach that will be in charge of developing the Scout 300 prospect and No. 1-ranked athlete in the Volunteer State’s 2018 class is first-year Vols wide receivers coach Kevin Beard. The relationship between Beard and Taylor continues to develop after Zach Azzanni left at the tail end of the winter for the Chicago Bears.
“It’s been great, man,” Taylor said of Beard. “I talked to him (last Saturday). We had a 7-on-7 in Alabama. So I talked to him and asked him if he could help me, coach me up on a few things as far as like route releases. What he told me I did, and it helped me out a lot. So just learning like that and we talk every day. After this I’m going to call him after this. And the whole coaching staff — not just (Beard) — hits me up now. So I’m hearing from everybody, I’m feeling the love and coach Beard, he’s doing a great job.
“He’s got the juice, man. He’s the only coach out there that’s got cleats on, so you know he’s got the juice.”
Taylor was at Buford (Ga.) High School to get battle tested versus some of the elite defensive backs in the South. After running a laser-timed 4.64-second 40-yard dash, Taylor went to work.
“I’m out here to compete,” the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Taylor said. “It’s been a childhood dream to ‘Get Open.’ I’ve been watching for the past three years and now it’s my chance. So, take advantage of that and play against some good competition.
“It’d mean everything (to get invited to The Opening Finals). Whenever I got the Under Armour All-America Game invite, it meant the world to me. It just shows how much work you put in and what can happen. So, getting to The Opening, it’s just the best up there. I just like to compete with the best and become a better player, so it’d be a blessing.”
After trips to Athens, Georgia, and Columbia, South Carolina, look for Taylor to return to Knoxville for a junior day on April 8.
“It will be my first time getting to meet coach Beard in person,” Taylor said.
He also said he will visit for the DISH Orange & White game in Knoxville on April 22. This fall, he plans to officially visit South Carolina the weekend of Oct. 28-29 and Louisiana State on Nov. 11-12 before Tennessee on Nov. 25-26.
“Then I’ll have a month until I leave for the Under Armour Game. Whenever I come back from that, I’ll enroll at UT,” he said.