GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If all goes as planned, Florida fans will be hearing the name Jeawon Taylor plenty this football season. Perhaps even as much as Jawaan Taylor.
The latter, of course, is the Gators’ steamroller of a right tackle, a breakout star as a freshman last season looking to do his part in elevating the team’s offensive line in 2017. Meanwhile, the former is competing for a major role at safety, hoping to emerge as a sophomore in Florida’s rebuilt secondary.
They are not related — or really much alike — beyond the pronunciation of their name … and nickname.
“Well, you know, the coaches, maybe we’re walking in a straight line and they’ll say Waany-Wonny. So they both call us the same thing,” Jeawon Taylor said this week.
Well that’s not very helpful.
“It’s not, but usually they’ll put Big Waany in front of his,” he said.
Jawaan Taylor, who became the first prominent “Waany” — and instructed that’s the proper spelling — last fall reiterates that he was the original, even though both joined the program as freshmen last year.
“So I came in — he wasn’t used to being called that name, so, like, everybody was calling me that name and I guess they just started calling both of us the name,” he explained. “So now it’s just like when they call Waany, we both look because we don’t know which one they’re talking about. So they’ve got to add either ‘Big Waany’ or ‘Little Wonny’ just so we can know.
“Ever since he started getting called it, he thinks he’s the real Waany [Wonny?] and all that. So it’s just fun.”
If the nicknames don’t add any clarity, there are plenty of other ways to differentiate the two Taylors.
Speaking with reporters Friday, Jawaan Taylor talked about his commitment to staying lean — well, relatively speaking — after dropping from 383 pounds in high school to his current 332.
Jeawon Taylor, meanwhile, revealed that he’s not yet to his own goal weight.
“What’s your weight?” he was asked Thursday.
“206,” he responded.
“What do you want to be at?”
So there’s that.
They come from different backgrounds. Jawaan Taylor is a Florida native from Cocoa while Jeawon hails from Montgomery, Ala.
One made a name for himself last fall knocking down defenders, the other hopes to earn a reputation this fall for knocking down passes.
“He’s more the loud, vocal type, you know? I’m just the more quiet type,” Jawaan Taylor said of Jeawon Taylor. “So that’s probably the difference you can tell between the both of us. He loves to have fun and laugh and all that. I love to have fun and laugh too, but he’s more louder than me. That’s pretty much like a difference with us.”
So there you have it.
All kidding aside, the Gators would be happy if Jawaan and Jeawon — or Big Waany and Little Wonny — both become prominent names on the roster this fall.
While the sophomore right tackle is a cornerstone to Florida’s hopes for improved offensive line play, the Gators’ thinnest position group is at safety, where Jeawon Taylor is competing for a starting job after playing mostly on special teams last fall.
All the while, one Waany will be rooting for the other Wonny.
“From Day 1 we’ve been pretty much good friends,” Jawaan Taylor said of their natural connection. “We just laugh about it every day. It’s pretty fun.”