Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers. In this edition, we discuss if Tennessee commit Alontae Taylor proved himself at The Opening last weekend.
Tennessee commit Alontae Taylor participated in Nike’s The Opening Finals last weekend in Oregon, and 247Sports director of scouting Barton Simmons listed Taylor as a player with a lot to prove in the competition.
Playing 7-on-7 and participating in 1-on-1 drills against some of the best talent in the country could help Taylor rise up the recruiting boards.
Taylor is a 4-star athlete and ranks as the No. 4 athlete in the Class of 2018 and the No. 122 prospect in the country, per the 247Sports composite rankings.
Taylor plays for Coffee County Central High School in Manchester, Tenn. A stage like The Opening does not come around often.
“It’s a blessing, you know. I’m very speechless and can’t really say a lot,” Taylor told SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi at The Opening. “All my dreams are unfolding. I’ve come a very long way, coming from a small town. Just to be out here is a big blessing, and I thank God every day.”
Taylor had a good showing at The Opening, but he felt he could have done better.
“I’ve done average,” Taylor said. “I haven’t done very well. I haven’t done very bad. I’ve seen the things I needed to work on. What I really need to do is calm down and play my game. Don’t overdo it. I’m trying to do too much. I’m trying to find where I am on the field instead of catching the ball first.”
Taylor plays quarterback for his high school and does not have much game experience playing wide receiver. He participated as a wide receiver at the camp because he most likely will play wideout in college.
Having to slow down and focus on making the catches makes sense because of his limited time playing the position. Additionally, the camp pits him against some of the top cornerbacks in the country, so the idea of struggling can make more sense.
For him to not struggle and play “average” by his standards probably will be an encouraging sign to the Tennessee coaching staff on his progress at the position.
The 6-foot, 178-pound athlete admitted he had plenty of work to do at wide receiver, but he will continue to put in the work.
“I don’t have a lot,” Taylor said. “A lot of people might doubt me because I played quarterback. I’ve probably played two snaps as a receiver in high school in an actual game. I lot of people may doubt me, but I’ve worked on my craft. I’ve worked outside of football practice as a receiver. When we aren’t at practice I work on receiver stuff.
“I call Tennessee coaches, I found out what I need to work on and I have a trainer. I work as a receiver but haven’t actually done that in a game. To me, that doesn’t matter. If you can do it in training and 7-on-7, then you can do it in a game. You just have to expect contact.”
On two separate tweets, Taylor showed some catching abilities during drills.
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) July 3, 2017
— Keith Niebuhr (@Keith247Sports) July 2, 2017
Taylor’s athleticism draws Tennessee in. Even though he has almost no game experience at wide receiver, his speed gives him the tools the Vols coaching staff wants in a wide receiver.
“Being a playmaker and being able to spread the field,” Taylor said. “They talked about me playing the Z and take the corner away so we can have underneath routes. Just spreading the field and using my athletic ability and my playmaking ability to make plays.”
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