Tyler Taylor grew up a UGA fan. His family is flush with Bulldogs, too. The three-star linebacker from Lanier High said that means something to him.
“I’m a Georgia boy and I’m homegrown so they were always just ‘that’ team,” he told DawgNation.
Well, ‘that’ team is actively recruiting him to play between the hedges. Taylor picked up an offer from UGA on Feb. 28 and visited the school on Tuesday.
“I loved everything about it,” said Taylor, who is rated as the nation’s No. 10 inside linebacker.
Taylor’s mother came along and also approved.
“She’s like me,” Taylor said. “She’s a Georgia girl. You didn’t have to tell her a lot to convince her that Georgia was a great place. She loved it.”
That’s a good sign given Taylor told DawgNation last month it was a dream offer.
“I say that because of the program and how prestigious the program is,” Taylor said. “Like UGA will always be one of the great football schools that you hear about.”
Taylor said that one advantage Georgia has is its location because he felt “there’s nothing like helping your home state win.” His visit took place on the first day of spring drills.
“The intensity of the practice for the first day was crazy,” he said. “The guys had no pads on, but the coaches had to keep telling the players to stay up. You can already see in the practices how excited all the players are for the season. It was so hyped up with so much intensity .”
Taylor is clearly taking things slow, but it was clear Kirby Smart and inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann made the right impression.
“I still don’t have any top schools but saying that I could definitely see myself playing at Georgia,” Taylor said. “Especially if I keep seeing the right stuff and hearing the right stuff from Georgia and the coaches.”
Taylor measured just shy of the 6-foot-2 mark at UGA and weighed in at 224 pounds. The best thing he heard from Smart was an evaluation of his versatility.
“They say with my size I would still be able to play inside linebacker on first and second down,” Taylor said. “But then I am fast enough to rush the passer on third down and put my hand in the dirt.”
The Gwinnett County native said he’s been clocked at 4.66 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Lanier coach Korey Mobbs feels one of the junior’s best plays last season involved him coming off the edge to force a turnover.
Taylor already has a handle of how Schumann coaches. He calls it “chill” and “in your face” at the same time. Taylor knows that sounds unusual, but he feels the first-year assistant pulls it off.
His stock has soared since his first offer from Colorado State. Taylor had offers from Georgia State, Kentucky, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Tulane and Wake Forest on Feb. 22. But then he added UGA, Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Illinois, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Texas in a nine-team flurry that began on Feb. 28.
“Alabama offered which started the chain,” he said. “I don’t know what made it happen but I thank God it did.”
Taylor didn’t have a great sophomore film so it took awhile for his junior clips to be evaluated. He first heard from defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. The new UGA defensive coordinator liked Taylor’s game and invited him to UGA. Tucker also said he’d pay Taylor a visit at Lanier soon.
That was that, It seemed.
UGA receivers coach James Coley called Taylor later that night. Coley said the whole staff loved his film and made the offer. Coley even hoped they could sit down soon and talk about Georgia. Coley now covers talent-rich Gwinnett County and that move shows how decisive he can be.
Who else is after Taylor? He’s been to Alabama and Tennessee on recent visits. He aims to go see Kentucky again along with Florida, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Taylor said that UGA is definitely a contender for an official visit, but he hasn’t given that much thought. He expects a decision to come during his senior year, but he needs to sit down with his coaches and family and come up with a timeline.
Enrolling early is not a possibility for him at Lanier High, he said. The rising senior plans to study either sports medicine or engineering in college. He’s already a solid student in the classroom with a “B” average.
Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.