Kelvin Taylor was born to a Gator great, he grew up a Gator fan, his high school mascot is the Gators and his Gator-themed lifestyle will likely continue this weekend when makes his college commitment.
Florida and Alabama are the finalists for the Belle Glade running back, and he’s ready to decide between the two after taking unofficial visits to both schools this past year.
“Both schools have great coaching staffs and real nice campuses,” Taylor said. “I’ve known it would come down to them for awhile and that’s why I’m making this decision now.”
Analysts have always assumed the four-star prospect is destined for Gainesville because of his father — former UF running back Fred Taylor (1994-1997).
Taylor’s 3,075 yards and 31 touchdowns at Florida rank fourth in school history. He was part of the first national championship team in 1996 and was a first-team All-American selection by the Walter Camp Foundation the following year as well as first-team SEC. He went on to have a productive career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who selected him 9th overall in the 1998 NFL Draft.
And while the younger Taylor is proud of his Gator bloodline and the comparisons to his dad, he would have been interested in UF even if he wasn’t a legacy recruit.
“I’m a Florida boy,” he said. “UF is just a nice place to be because it’s closer to home for me. It has great tradition and it had a great program even before my dad went there. I love him and look up to him as a football player, but I’m my own person. I want to be Kelvin Taylor, not Fred Taylor’s son.”
Early on in his recruitment, Taylor was very outspoken about the Gators being his leader. But Alabama didn’t back off and made things interesting thanks to its program and coaching prestige.
“Bama has top-notch coaches and a top-notch program,” Taylor said. “They’ve won a lot of championships like UF has. That’s why I narrowed it down to those two because both schools offer the same things.”
Aside from his Gator background, Taylor has held Florida in high regard because of his relationship with wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, his primary recruiter.
“He is a great guy,” Taylor said. “Me and coach Hill talk a lot on the phone and I enjoy every time that he comes to see me at my school. I just love being around him and the other coaches. When I go up there I feel like I’m family and that’s why I really like Florida.”
Taylor is going to see that family atmosphere one last time before making his decision. He will be in Gainesville Friday through Sunday and attend UF’s second Junior Day during his stay.
Taylor said he’s visiting for three days so he can hang out around the team some more. If it feels like home, he will make it his permanent one.
“I just need to check out the school again before I choose,” Taylor said. “I’m gonna go wherever I feel most comfortable and I need to make sure it’s with the players and coaches at UF.”
Taylor splashed onto the recruiting scene in eighth grade, when he became a starter for the Glades Day varsity team and earned all-state honors. He rushed for 1,692 yards and 27 touchdowns, and his highlight reel from that season has over 190,000 views on YouTube.
As a freshman, Taylor exploded with 2,691 rushing yards and 47 TDs and his team captured the state championship. The Gators won the title again in his sophomore year (highlights) and then Taylor became Florida’s career rushing leader in yardage and touchdowns in only his junior season (highlights).
On Nov. 11, 2011, this 34-yard touchdown run by Taylor broke Emmitt Smith’s previous mark of 8,804 yards, which dated back to 1986. Taylor finished the game with 388 yards rushing and six TDs on 34 carries in a 43-29 win over South Fork (Stuart, Fla.).
With the record in the books and his recruitment about to be over, Taylor is looking forward to enjoying his senior year without any pressure. He could the challenge the national mark of 11,232 yards set by Ken Hall of Sugar Land (Texas) in 1953. Taylor’s pre-freshman statistics aren’t included in the listings.
But he wants a third ring more than another record.
“I can’t wait to get my commitment out the way,” said Taylor, who is currently 5-foot-11, 214 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds. “I’m just gonna keep my grades up, work out very hard, run track, lift weights, and just focus my mind on high school football and trying to get another state title.”