Tyler Taylor hasn’t hidden how influential his mother, Akita, is to his final college decision.
The 4-star linebacker confides in small circle during his recruitment. It’s Tyler and Akita.
“We’ve kinda been together, just him and I, for a very long time,” Akita told SEC Country. “We roll together. We ride or die. Whatever decision we come to, it’s our decision. It’s something we’ll both support.”
Tyler has publicly noted on multiple occasions that his mother is his inspiration. She’s the reason he strives for a free education and a football career. Alas, her input has become some of the most vital as Tyler narrows in on his choice, which as of Wednesday afternoon, still hadn’t been finalized.
As recently as his official visit to Auburn last weekend, Taylor spoke of how much his mother’s opinion matters to him when he cited her love for Auburn and her appreciation for coach Travis Williams.
In other words, Akita has a valuable voice in the matter. Though, make no mistake, she wants Tyler to know he’s the one who will have to play and attend school. Ultimately, it’s his decision to make.
There have been times he surprised her a bit — like the announcement Oklahoma was officially taking a backseat to Auburn and LSU. She didn’t question Tyler. Akita simply went through her due diligence to ensure that announcement was something he truly felt since the Sooners had been so high on his list for so long.
“He knows that Mom is a very critical thinker. I analyze everything. I ask a lot of questions,” Akita said. “Now that really caught me off guard when he said that because Oklahoma was ranked really high on our list. Maybe he’s come to this decision without me … If so, he gets my blessing. We will talk about these reasons why you would eliminate Oklahoma as a candidate of choice.”
There are four programs Akita has given her “blessing” to — Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys appear to be well on the outside looking in (the Sooners may be, too), but Oklahoma State coach Glenn Spencer’s relationship with the Taylor extends longer than that of any other Power 5 coach. Spencer and Mike Gundy made in-home visits this week. Oklahoma, as of Wednesday, hadn’t yet attempted an in-home visit.
But, per his comments Sunday, Tyler has excluded those two Big 12 programs from his final list. It’s LSU and Auburn to the finish.
LSU visited last Thursday, and it wasn’t clear when or if they’d return. Auburn planned to visit the Taylors. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and linebackers coach Travis Williams were on tap for a mid-week visit. Williams’ bond with mother and son will be critical in securing the 4-star linebacker from Buford (Ga.).
The Taylor family took its official visit to the Plains last weekend — his last OV before the decision, which they’d like to announce by end-of-day Wednesday or Thursday. It could take longer, but that’s the goal. Tyler saw a better look at Auburn University as an institution, which included a sit-down with the director of the kinesiology department.
The visit re-affirmed all the positive thoughts Tyler and Akita have shared about Auburn since the beginning.
“It’s been a high program of choice for me ever since we started pursuing these opportunities,” Akita said. “But I really like coach Will, Travis Williams. Tyler has a really strong connection with him. That’s a big deal for me too. More than anything, I’m really excited about their program. They really do have a great program over there.”
LSU has picked up late steam in recruiting. Dave Aranda and Ed Oregeron have always stayed in touch with Tyler, but the communication regularity drastically increased in December. Most of LSU’s contact goes through Tyler rather than Akita, which is different than the other three schools.
From a program perspective, Akita thinks highly of all schools remaining. She also recognizes the importance of early playing time. And, for the first time in a long time, that path is much clearer at LSU than Auburn.
“I think one of the biggest things about LSU is the depth chart of the linebackers,” Akita said. “For now, we don’t really have to worry about the stability of the coach. Coach O just getting hired into that position. I think he would at least be there for another 2-3 years. We also like coach Aranda. He has a pretty good history of making successful linebackers.”
The answers will soon come for the never-ending questions the Taylors have been asking.
“What does the depth chart look like? How well do I connect with the coaches? What type of educational program do they have? How far away is it from me? Is distance a problem?” Akita said. “I come from a family of 9 siblings and a large family. Not just my parents, but my parents’ parents. We’re very close knit. How can I get my family involved? How far away are the games going to be? There’s a lot for use to think about.”
Based on the depth chart, Tyler would likely head to Baton Rouge. If it’s distance from home, Auburn makes the most sense. Tyler’s decision will give a good idea of which factors ranked highest on his decision list.
The decision is near. You’ve heard Tyler’s public take on it all. Now you’ve heard Akita’s.