NEW ORLEANS — Stephon Taylor, the highest-rated defensive player in South Carolina’s 2016 signing class, met with SEC Country on Tuesday afternoon to share some insight on what he’ll add to the South Carolina defense..
The four-star defensive tackle will graduate from McDonogh 35 High School on Thursday, just a few weeks before he reports to Columbia, where he will begin his career with the Gamecocks.
In the following Q&A, Taylor discusses why he ended up signing with the Gamecocks:
How would you describe yourself as a player?
“I’m a 3-technique, great defending the run, but I can also get after the passer. I have great footwork, work ethic, strong — every play, I’m going to go at it.”
How did South Carolina come about for you?
“Coach Will Muschamp, he’s been recruiting me since he was at Florida. That’s when I first made that connection with him. He always stayed in contact. He sent people down to see me from all three of the schools he’s been at since he’s been recruiting me, that’s Florida, Auburn and South Carolina. When he finally caught the head coaching job, he broke it down … four years, he’s going to be in there for quite amount of time. That was great, because that’s what I was looking for, I was looking for somebody who was going to stick around. I could have went with Texas. I could have went with quite a few schools but South Carolina stood out to me. I met with Coach (Travaris Robinson) and Coach (Lance) Thompson, I met with all of them at Auburn.”
How much interest did you get from South Carolina when Steve Spurrier was there?
“When Spurrier was there, I used to watch them when (Jadeveon) Clowney was there. Then, when Clowney went into the (NFL), I stopped watching them.”
But they didn’t really recruit you?
“They didn’t recruit me. But when they switched staffs — I was talking to (Muschamp) when they were switching. He said if I stayed with him, things would be great. When he was with coach Gus (Malzahn), I went down there for an unofficial visit — I had a great time at Auburn for an unofficial visit. That was a lot of time that I spent with (Muschamp, Robinson and Thompson) then.”
What with Muschamp do you really trust?
“I trust his coaching skills and his all-around skills, not just skills with the players. Not just skill on the field, he’s disciplined outside of the field. He’s a great guy. I love the man.”
How was the decision process?
“It was terrible. Going into the last two or three days, I stopped answering phone calls, all type of stuff. It was so terrible…I thought about Texas. I could go to Texas, play at Texas and everything would be the same at Texas. But would Charlie Strong be there?”
Texas, they were second?
“Texas was second. I had Texas and South Carolina. I was messing with Florida State, but they’ve got 10 down D-linemen. I could have squeezed in anywhere.”
Hale McGranahan covers South Carolina football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Williams-Brice Stadium.