Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hokie Football: Virginia Tech Lands QB Tyrod Taylor

Last night amongst a crowded press conference with much of the Tidewater area tuning in, Hampton High quarterback Tyrod Taylor announced his decision to play next year for Frank Beamer and 'The University of Virginia Tech', kicking his other prime choice of Florida University to the curb. Though it's no official letter-of-intent towards VT, this is still big, big news not only for the Hokies, but for many colleges around the nation as well, as the rising senior admitted to having been offered a total of over 50 scholarships altogether during his recruitment.

Hokie followers everywhere should be ecstatic upon hearing the newest of Hokies' commitment to come to Blacksburg, especially with the aftermath of the Marcus Vick controversy still looming as well as having to witness Tech's troubles at quarterback throughout the training sessions this past spring. Though Virginia Tech has been praised for their tremendous job towards in-state recruiting, it's been several years since the program landed a five-star quarterback, and this one is shaped exactly in the on-field mold of Marcus and his older brother, Michael.

As you may have already read in my earlier posts not more than a few days ago, this young man from Hampton Roads is the real deal, and to illustrate the effect his decision has already made in the area, here are several full articles from the local paper, the Daily Press, that have been all over this story since it unfolded last night:

Taylor's choice: Virginia Tech
Hampton High quarterback Tyrod Taylor picks Virginia Tech, saying he wants the chance to play close to his home and his family.

July 22, 2006
By Melinda Waldrop

In the end, Tyrod Taylor wanted to be close to his family.

Taylor, Hampton High School's highly sought-after quarterback, ended months of suspense Friday, announcing that he will stay in state and attend Virginia Tech next season.

His family - both immediate, including his two great-grandmothers, and extended, totaling about 200 people - was mighty glad to hear it.

The crowd, gathered at Crabbers Restaurant in Hampton, broke into a loud, lengthy cheer when Taylor made his choice live on WAVY News 10 TV. "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 more than 50 scholarships, narrowed his choices to Florida and Virginia Tech. 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.

After he announced his choice - by saying "the University of Virginia Tech," which caused a few heads in the audience to snap around before he finished his unconventional phrasing - Taylor donned a maroon hat emblazoned with the letters VT that his mother, Trina Taylor, pulled from a gold bag. His dad, Rodney Taylor, soon sported similar headgear.

Rodney Taylor said his son liked Tech's academics, and the fact that he'll be competing on a national stage for the perennial ACC title contender.

"You know they're gonna be in some big games," Rodney Taylor said.

"Playing at Hampton High School, all the games are big over there. You can't lose any of them. We expect that same thing at Virginia Tech."

Rodney said his son visited Penn State, N.C. State, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina.

Tyrod Taylor wanted to make his decision public before attending the Elite 11 quarterback camp in Los Angeles this weekend, and before beginning practice with the Crabbers, whom he led to the Division 5 state championship last season.

Several members of the championship team were on hand for the announcement, as was Elton Brown of the Arizona Cardinals, who played at Heritage and Hampton.

Taylor accounted for 2,588 total yards - 1,544 through the air and 1,044 on the ground - in 2005. Hampton coach Mike Smith said the process of choosing a college hasn't deterred Taylor from focusing on duplicating, if not bettering, those numbers this year.

"He hasn't quit working. I'll tell you that," Smith said. "I don't know that there's anybody that's worked any harder than he has. He's really put some time in in the offseason on his own. I think he's gonna go out and have a good showing at the Elite 11, come back, and be ready to roll."

Taylor's announcement came as no surprise to Smith, who gave Hampton native Curt Newsome credit for sealing Taylor's choice. Newsome, Tech's offensive line coach, who recruits the Southside and Hampton High, is a former coach at Kecoughtan and Heritage high schools and has enjoyed a long relationship with Smith and his players.

"He's just a really well-established name here in the community and in the state of Virginia," Smith said.

Smith also thinks the Hokies' offensive scheme will appeal to Taylor.

"He can play under center or in the shotgun, either one, and they utilize both aspects," Smith said. "They throw a lot of play-action, and the things that we do are similar in that respect. So I think he's gonna fit in extremely well."

Taylor isn't worried about any potential comparisons to former area standouts-turned-star Hokie QBs, such as Michael Vick, with whom he spoke before making his decision.

He's just eager to get to Blacksburg and begin competing for the starting job, currently being contested between Sean Glennon and Cory Holt.

Taylor said he's eligible to graduate from Hampton in December and enroll in Tech in January. He'll make that decision, he said, before the Crabbers' season starts in September.

"I just want to get there and play," Taylor said.
Taylor decision sparks Tech
With Tyrod Taylor's recruitment behind him, he's in the process of doing some recruiting of his own for Virginia Tech.
July 22, 2006
By Norm Wood

HAMPTON -- Tyrod Taylor looked comfortable early Friday evening with the Virginia Tech baseball cap pulled down over his eyes. He was ready to get back to his part-time job as one of Tech's biggest unofficial recruiters.

There will be time in the future to worry about Tech's depth chart at the quarterback position. That situation wasn't his most pressing concern Friday after he committed to Tech at a Hampton restaurant. Forget about Jim Cavanaugh, Bryan Stinespring and Curt Newsome, all Tech assistant coaches and the football program's primary recruiters. For the next few months, Taylor will be Tech's most influential recruiter.

"I'm going to try to bring in as many players as I can," Taylor said. "If I can't bring in any, I'll just work with what's there."

Taylor, who will be a senior at Hampton High this fall, has already started stumping for Tech with some of the nation's top wide receiver recruits. Numbers for receivers Jay Smith from Virginia Beach, Mark Barnes from South Carolina and Arrelious Benn from Washington, D.C., are all in his Taylor's cell phone.

Smith had 17 catches for 276 yards and six touchdowns last season at Kempsville, and will attend Lake Taylor High in Norfolk this fall. Taylor said he and Smith have had many conversations about college plans.

Smith is considering scholarship offers from Clemson, Michigan State, Miami, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech. After hearing about Taylor's commitment to Tech, Smith's father, Mordecai, admitted it's bound to affect his son's decision.

"I thought it was a great decision to go to Tech," said Mordecai, who added Jay plans to announce his intentions after this coming football season. "In my opinion, and my son's opinion, he's one of the best players in the nation. My son would love to have the opportunity to play with him. It's definitely in our thought pattern (to go to Tech)."

Mordecai said Jay has official visits scheduled for both U.Va. and Tech. U.Va. picked up a commitment in April from Peter Lalich, a top-rated quarterback from West Springfield High in Northern Virginia. Despite Lalich's commitment, Mordecai said if Jay had to narrow his list down today, U.Va. would get cut before Tech.

It's all because of Taylor.

"Not taking anything away from Pete Lalich and Virginia, because the Virginia assistant coaches are great people, but this decision (by Taylor) does play a major factor," Mordecai said. "It's a new era at Virginia Tech. It's the Tyrod Taylor era. We saw the Michael Vick era. Now, we have to brace ourselves for this Tyrod Taylor era."

Taylor said he has spoken with Barnes, and has gotten a positive response regarding Tech, but hasn't had the opportunity to talk with Benn. Benn said he's looking forward to listening to what Taylor has to say.

"I've never really seen him play, so I don't really know much about him, but I definitely want to talk to him," said Benn, who added that Tech is currently behind Notre Dame, Florida State, Illinois and Maryland on his list. "I know who he is. I'm going to go check out some video and things (on Taylor) right now."

Though Taylor just made public one of the worst-kept secrets in recruiting circles, his college future hasn't been any mystery to Tech recruits. At a July 8 camp at Tech for rising high school senior football players, Taylor said he told a few recruits he was going to commit to Tech.

He said he spoke with offensive linemen William Alvarez and Blake DeChristopher and receiver Patrick Terry. DeChristopher had committed to Tech two days earlier. Terry committed on the day of the camp, and Alvarez committed July 15. They were three of Tech's 10 commitments during a torrid 11-day span.

After he's done making his phone calls to recruits, Taylor said he will make a decision on whether to enroll at Tech in January or wait until fall 2007. With sophomores Sean Glennon and Cory Holt fighting for Tech's starting quarterback job this fall, and redshirt freshman Ike Whitaker waiting in the wings, the sooner Taylor gets to Tech may be the better.

Considering Tech has had its share of success with mobile quarterbacks in recent history (see Michael Vick, Bryan Randall and Marcus Vick), it might not take long for Taylor to move ahead of Glennon, Holt and Whitaker.

"They're all good players," Taylor said. "I love to compete. There's competition wherever you go. I want to compete for that job as long as it's fair.

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