Darvin Taylor, the prized defensive tackle recruit from Thomas Dale High School in Virginia, has both present skills and room to get exponentially better, which he will do at Florida State.
Taylor made his college decision official Thursday, announcing at a press conference that he will become a Seminole starting in 2015, via Noles247.com:
There was a cluster of eight schools that Taylor was deciding from, per a tweet he released in June:
Looking at the early recruiting rankings for 2015, Taylor's addition gives Florida State 18 total commitments and 11 ranked in the four- or five-star category, according to 247Sports.com.
Football recruiting classes don't live or die on the shoulders of one player, but Taylor is the kind of prospect you can build a group around. He is ranked as the No. 16 defensive tackle prospect in the country and 165th overall for the 2015 season, also per 247Sports.com.
Taylor's decision to attend college in Tallahassee seemed to be in the works for months, as the defensive tackle had nothing but praise and respect for Florida State defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins in March, per Christopher Nee of 247Sports.com: "He's like another dad to me. My dad tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear and that's what coach Odell does too."
While that doesn't exactly sound like a game-changing talent on paper, Jamie Uyeyama of VTScoop.com and SonOfACoach.com raved about Taylor's raw potential and upside before acknowledging he is a huge project:
Taylor seems to have that knack for just being around the ball. Whether it’s a fumble, tipped pass, or chasing down a player to make a tackle, he shows that he can produce splash plays.
He shows the ability to play strong at the point of attack and take on the double team when he fires off the ball. The problem is that he plays too passive and relies on his eyes to try and figure out the play rather than feeling his block which will tell him where the ball is. He’s big and strong enough to blow up his man on each play, but doesn’t do it on a consistent basis.
With "prospect," the one term that people simultaneously love and hate to hear is "project." It's a term designed to get you excited about a player because you can see the moments of brilliance that can make him a superstar.
However, it's also one of the worst terms in sports because it means that for whatever reason something hasn't clicked. Taylor is a coach's dream as a teenager who is already 6'2" and over 300 pounds playing defensive tackle.
In a defensive scheme with four linemen, whether it's 4-3 or 4-2 nickel coverage scheme, Taylor can just be that anchor in the middle, taking up blockers and opening holes for defensive ends to get sacks and stop the running back behind the line of scrimmage.
There will be more pressure on Taylor's development as a pass-rusher in a 3-4 setting. He's not the kind of prospect who is going to make an instant impact, likely needing a redshirt year to turn his skills into ability at the college level.
Florida State is the perfect spot for Taylor to develop into the player everyone thinks he can become. He's joining an already-loaded roster that won't put a lot of pressure on him right away while being able to come out of the shadows in the next few years to become a star for Jimbo Fisher's defense.
Whatever path Taylor takes in college, there's enormous physical potential for the defensive tackle. He can become the anchor on a defensive line, which is what every coach in the country is searching to find.
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