Alontae Taylor’s recruitment has taken off. It figures to skyrocket very soon.
The sophomore athlete from Coffey County Central (Manchester, Tenn.) committed to Vanderbilt in October over scholarship offers from Troy and Georgia Southern. For a young man that wanted to play in the SEC, that was an easy decision. Now, with a scholarship offer from Tennessee, his eventual, final decision just got much tougher.
“It makes me think a lot. …Tennessee is a school that I’ve always liked a lot,” the 6-foot, 175-pound prospect said. “So it’s going to be one of those frustrating recruiting processes. I can see that now.”
Taylor said he still considers himself a Vanderbilt commitment, even if he doesn’t sound like a hard commit. It seems almost any school in the SEC could be in play. After all, Taylor won’t sign his letter of intent until February 2018.
“I always wanted to play SEC ball,” Taylor said. “Now I’m just looking to see how many more SEC schools are going to offer.”
The latest scholarship offer was an emotional one. Taylor ventured into Butch Jones’ office last week with a bit of anxiety. It was only the second time he had met the Tennessee coach and the first he had spoke to Jones since committing to Vanderbilt.
“He shook my hand and said they’d like to offer me a scholarship at the University of Tennessee,” Jones said. “It was awesome. …He didn’t really bring up the Vanderbilt commitment at all. It kind of felt like it doesn’t matter if I’m committed to Vanderbilt, they still want me to come to Tennessee.”
Then there’s another SEC team that could factor into Taylor’s recruitment.
“I grew up rooting for Alabama,” Taylor said. “Alabama was a school that I liked a lot.”
When asked what he likes about Alabama, Taylor said the Crimson Tide’s defense stands out. Taylor is listed as a dual-threat quarterback but will likely play another position in college. Defensive back seems very possible.
“I know I play offense, but I like playing DB and Alabama has some good DBs that go into the league,” Taylor said, referring to the NFL. “I like the way that they train up their DBs. … I really like the defensive side of the ball with Alabama.”
Taylor said he also likes how Tennessee is producing defensive backs. However, Taylor could also play offense in college. He said he has run for about 1,200 yards and 19 touchdowns since being moved from receiver to quarterback after the third game of the season.
“I just want to play wherever they put me, but DB and safety would be a high choice for me,” Taylor said. “But I prefer to play somewhere that the coaches know I can succeed at and play there, even if that means to play on the offensive side.”
Taylor said he will visit Cincinnati on Saturday. He’ll visit Vanderbilt for the Texas A&M game on Nov. 21 and Tennessee when the Vols host Vandy on Nov. 28.
“I didn’t realize it was going to pop off like this because coming into spring I was a receiver,” Taylor said. “It’s happened faster than I expected it to. … I’m glad that it’s coming along as it is.”
As expected, Taylor needs to get bigger before he’ll be ready for college football. He noticed as much when he was in Knoxville last week.
“When I went to Tennessee, walking around the locker room, I know I need to grow a lot more,” he said. “I want to get thicker as a player. I want to be a better team leader. I want to be more of a vocal leader.”