Jawaan Taylor took several visits during the recruiting process, but his latest trip to Florida produced the funniest moment he experienced as a prospect.
The three-star offensive guard from Cocoa (Fla.) visited UF this month to watch the Gators for spring football.
“After practice, they had music playing in the locker room and all the players were in there dancing,” Taylor said. “Then coach (Kerry) Dixon and coach (Chris) Rumph came in and started. It was hilarious because the whole team circled around them and they were doing some crazy moves that had everybody laughing.”
Taylor didn’t see Dixon and Rumph hit the Nae Nae or stanky leg.
“The stuff they were doing, I had never seen dance moves like that,” Taylor said. “They were from the ’80’s or something.”
Despite facing someone nicknamed the Rumph Shaker, Dixon won the dance-off, according to Taylor.
“I think Dixon was more smooth than Rumph,” he said. “Rumph was real old school with it.”
Taylor’s visit just made him more excited about joining the Florida program.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I felt like I was already part of the team. All the coaches and players love me, so I came up there and hung out with them. It was great to get back to Gainesville and I can’t wait to enroll in June.”
The following is a Q&A with Taylor in the fourth edition of our Florida recruiting rewind series.
Q: If you could give a junior ONLY one piece of advice about the recruiting process, what would it be?
A: “Really, just take your time with the process. Don’t rush it and make a decision too fast. Take all your visits.”
Q: What school came in second? What could they have done a little better?
A: “I would probably say Miami. I was committed to them earlier in my senior season, but with a coaching change, that’s the main thing that made me leave Miami.”
Q: What was the most creative thing a school or coach did to get your attention?
A: “There was nothing really creative. I just went up to campus and saw a lot of things at Florida to get ready and know how the program is. They showed me the playbook early and different blocking schemes. I was always looking for a team that ran similar stuff to what we did at my high school, so that really drew me in with Florida.”
Q: What was the biggest rumor about you that wasn’t true?
A: “People thought I was going to switch out on Florida and go back to Miami on signing day. But I knew where my heart was at, and that’s Florida.”
Q: What’s the biggest secret you kept during the recruiting process?
A: “When I de-committed from Miami, I had already decided I was going to Florida. I was going to keep it a secret a little longer, but I came out with it the next day.”
Q: What is the funniest thing any HEAD coach said to you during the entire recruiting process?
A: “Coach McElwain and my dad were really good friends. He also played at Cocoa and they retired his jersey. So when coach McElwain came to my school and was looking around the gym, he told my dad, ‘I can’t find your jersey anywhere around here. You’re not lying about it, are you?’ That was funny.”
Q: What was your biggest regret during the recruiting process?
A: “Just with my weight loss and not doing it earlier. I ended up with 15 offers, but I feel like I would have had more if I lost weight as a junior instead of my senior year. I was at 383 and now I’m down to 335.”
Q: Describe the impact of cost of attendance on your recruiting?
A: “Yeah, I paid attention to the money I would get and how the school would invest in me. That opened up my eyes and it was good to know, but I’m not there for money. I want to get to the next level and get my degree, so it wasn’t a priority for me.”
Q: Which coach was it the hardest to say no to?
A: “Probably (offensive line) coach J.B. Grimes when he was at Auburn. He’s with Cincinnati now. He was hard to say no to because he stayed on me throughout my recruitment. He kept coming to my house and school trying to get me to come on a visit.”
Q: Which school disappointed you the most during recruiting?
A: “Florida State. They offered me early in my junior year, but they didn’t heavily recruit me and never really came to see me.”
Q: Which college would you have considered more seriously if they had offered you earlier in the process?
A: “Georgia. If they recruited me earlier, maybe I would have been able to get up for a visit. They offered me like two weeks before signing day.”
Q: How much negative recruiting was out there?
A: “Not really any. It was all positive for me. Miami fans got upset when I flipped, but I had so much support in Gainesville and from Gator fans that it didn’t matter.”
Q: Which head coach of a team that you did not sign with was the nicest? Which coach was not the nicest?
A: “Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. I remember sitting in his office in the summer time when I came for their camp. He seemed real cool and my family liked him. I didn’t really have a coach that wasn’t nice to me.”
Q: If you were in charge of the NCAA, what’s the one rule you would change with recruiting?
A: “Just the early recruiting with sophomores and freshmen. Coaches can’t really talk to them like they want to, so I’d change that rule. If they’re recruiting a player early, they should be able to come talk to them at their school and not wait until their junior year.”