He’s the recruit everyone had their eye on, for a while now. Being the son of a former Florida Gators’ great is one thing; breaking the career state rushing record of another is one more. There are many things that turned Kelvin Taylor into one of the nation’s most sought after running backs; his connections to Fred Taylor and Emmitt Smith are just a couple. The 2013 RB more than lives up to the comparisons and the hype and on February 18, he made Gator Nation extremely happy.
Name: Kelvin Taylor
Position: Running Back
Hometown: Belle Glade, FL
High School: Glades Day
Rankings: 247Sports – 5 stars, No. 1 RB, No. 13 Overall | ESPN – 4 stars, No. 1 RB, No. 21 Overall | Scout – 4 stars, No. 9 RB, No. 58 Overall | Rivals – 4 stars, No. 9 RB, No. 92 Overall
Status: Committed to Florida
It came down to two schools for Taylor: Florida – where his father played – and Alabama – the defending national champions and the program that recently produced Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. A tough decision for Taylor seemed like a no-brainer for Gators’ fans. The decision came early when Taylor committed to Florida, and although there’s plenty of time for him to change his mind, not many see that happening.
Taylor is a workhorse with the label “primary back” written all over him. He has the ability to carry the ball 20+ times a game or contribute to a stable of talented backs (something Will Muschamp and the coaching staff seem determined to build). Having performed so well for so long at the high school level, there may be concern over fatigue or overuse, but Taylor appears to be the type that won’t slow down any time soon. Take his father for instance, who averaged 5.6 yards per carry in 15 games with the Jacksonville Jaguars at 31 years old.
Being the primary back in an offense does come with its concerns though. Look back at the elder Taylor one more time. Despite being one of the NFL’s great running backs throughout his career, injuries were a big part of it. He only appeared in all 16 regular season games twice. On the bright side though, we aren’t talking about the NFL and the younger Taylor will be part of a group of backs at Florida expected to stay fresh and rotate in and out.
It’s hard to pinpoint one part of Taylor’s game to highlight. It’s actually hard to pinpoint several. He looks to be ready for the next level at this point and appears to be light years ahead of most of the competition he goes up against.
At this stage his breakaway speed is one of the most impressive pieces of his game. It’s always difficult to gauge how certain things will translate to the next level when the competition is that much better, but Taylor does have another gear that he is able to shift to when it looks like he’ll be tracked down. The Gators have had backs in the past with similar ability, but also those that used much of their energy breaking free and were eventually caught. Taylor doesn’t get caught often. If he can find a hole, there’s always the chance he’ll go the distance.
In terms of finding a hole, Taylor has the ability to create them on his own it seems. He has outstanding field vision for someone his age and can find the perfect place to turn on the jets. Taylor doesn’t always need the hole to be right in front of him as he sees the entire field and is able to find them wherever they may be. His agility allows him to make quick adjustments to his run and find the open space. This will serve him well as the speed of the game increases around him in the SEC.
It remains to be seen how Taylor’s talents will translate to the college level, but all is looking good. His pedigree, coupled with his all-world ability make him a prime candidate for stardom at the next level. Although the recruiting services disagree about just how good he is – he’s either the nation’s best running back or near the bottom of the top 10 – they don’t disagree that he should have few problems playing in college.
Taylor is an exciting addition to the Gators’ class and those of us that vividly remember his father can’t wait to see what the son can do.
To read additional reports on both Florida Gators’ commits and prospects, visit our 2013 Football Recruiting Reports page.