TYROD TAYLOR: IT'S VIRGINIA TECH
Highly regarded Hampton quarterback picks Hokies over the University of Florida.
MELINDA WALDROP and LYNN BURKE
July 21, 2006, 6:29 PM EDT
HAMPTON -- Tyrod Taylor, Hampton High School's highly touted and heavily recruited quarterback, will play his college football at Virginia Tech.
Taylor picked Virginia Tech over traditional SEC title contender Florida during a televised press conference Friday night. He becomes the fourth high-profile Peninsula quarterback in the last decade to pick Virginia Tech, following Michael Vick and Marcus Vick, both from Warwick, and Bruton's Bryan Randall.
Taylor also considered Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina State.
The crowd gathered at Crabbers Restaurant in Hampton broke into a loud, lengthy cheer when Taylor made his choice live on WAVY News 10.
"I wanted to be around my family where they could come see me play, (and) I fit in well with the coaches and the players," Taylor said.
Taylor, who his dad said had been offered upwards of 50 total scholarships, narrowed his choices to Florida and Virginia Tech in late spring. But after attending a camp for rising high school seniors at Tech on July 8, Taylor became more certain of his decision, and he canceled a visit to Florida he'd scheduled for last week.
"I had a real good feeling" after the camp, said Taylor, who said he also took into account the Hokies' pledge not to recruit any other quarterbacks from the class of 2007.
Taylor amassed 2,588 yards -- 1,544 passing and 1,044 rushing - as he led the Crabbers to the Division 5 state championship last season as a junior. Rivals.com, a website that tracks high school recruits, ranks Taylor as the fourth-best quarterback prospect in the country and the No. 18 prospect overall. Scout.com ranks Taylor as the No. 7 quarterback prospect nationally.
Taylor has said he wanted to announce his decision before attending the Elite 11 quarterback camp in Southern California this weekend. Nike selected 12 top rising senior quarterbacks from a pool of more than 1,000 candidates to attend the camp.
Hampton coach Mike Smith said he and Taylor discussed several different schools, taking into account things such as whether Taylor's family would be able to see him play.
Smith's program also has produced such high school quarterbacks as Ronald Curry, now a wide reciever with the Oakland Raiders, and Marques Hagans, who was drafted by St. Louis out of Virginia in May.
Smith said Taylor reminds him of those two in several key ways.
"I think all three of those guys had the same God-given ability," Smith said. "They're talented, and they don't let things bother them. If they make a mistake or somebody on their team makes a mistake, they don't dwell on it. They're all confident. They all take command in the huddle, but they don't let things bother them, and I think that's really, really important as a quarterback, that you don't dwell on what's happened."
Smith said the hype surrounding Taylor's decision is probably the greatest of the three because of the national exposure he's gotten through camps and combines.
Hagans went on to a successful four-year career at Virginia, becoming the school's second-most accurate passer, and is expected to contribute to the Rams on special teams. Curry's collegiate career at North Carolina was injury-plagued, and he's currently trying to recover from a torn Achilles' tendon.
Taylor, Smith thinks, has the potential to achieve great success at the next level.
"He's played against a lot of speed," Smith said. "He's played against a lot of great athletes. He's a very disciplined kid. He's got all the characteristics that he would need. … Barring injury, he's gonna be a good one."
For more details, read the Saturday editions of the Daily Press.