KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Alontae Taylor said he had been on Tennessee’s campus “about 10 times” prior to Saturday’s Orange Carpet recruiting event.
“Last Friday on our way up to campus, I was talking to my parents, and I said if I’m feeling it, I’ll make it (a verbal commitment) happen,” said Taylor, who 247Sports ranks as the No. 6 player in the Volunteer State’s 2018 class.
“I just had so much fun, and I get chills there. I’ve never seen that side of Tennessee football before.”
Taylor, a 6-foot, 180-pound dual-threat quarterback at Coffee County Central in Manchester, Tenn., is classified as an “athlete” by the recruiting analysts, projected to play receiver or defensive back at the collegiate level.
Previously committed to Vanderbilt (Oct. 7, 2015), Taylor re-opened his commitment on May 12. By May 17, Michigan assistant Jay Harbaugh had paid him a visit.
Notre Dame had seen him the previous month, and Ole Miss and Louisville offered Taylor a scholarship in the days leading up to his de-commitment from the Commodores.
It was a lot for a sophomore in high school to try to handle all at once.
“Recruiting gets frustrating, (and) some fans don’t understand what we go through,” Taylor said. “They want what is best for them and not for the recruit. You have all these people in your ear. Sometimes you just have to put your phone down and not think about it.”
Taylor said that’s what he plans on doing now that he’s committed to Tennessee.
The only speculation remaining, he indicated, is what positions he will play once with the Vols after signing in 2018.
“No more camps, and to me, it’s no longer a visit when I go to Knoxville, it’s me going home,” Taylor said. “I’m probably going to come back in July and hang out with the players, and I’ll be at every home game.
“Coming in, I was recruited by Coach (Willie) Martinez, then Coach Z (Zach Azzanni) came in, and now I’m being recruited as a receiver,” Taylor said. “I’m looking at what position will get me on the field as a freshman. I was told there are some packages I could get on the field with in the nickel (defense), but my primary position will be as a receiver, and I’ll do some kick and punt return.”
Taylor has played in a read-option offense the past two seasons. He said he had 1,547 yards rushing and 799 passing yards last season after a freshman season that saw him rush for 1,676 yards and pass for more than 300 yards.
Taylor said he will continue to take snaps at quarterback this season, but he also will play receiver and defensive back for Coffee County Central.