Message to Kelvin Taylor: Wish you were here.
The record-breaking Belle Glade Glades Day running back was in a strange predicament this week, with a bunch of free time and no idea what to do with it.
He’s used to being someplace else and he vowed Friday, he will return in 2013.
“I guarantee we’ll be there next year,” Taylor said when reached at home by phone from the press box at the Citrus Bowl, site of the Florida state high school football championships. “It’s pretty weird. Man, we gotta get back there.”
He wore out the Citrus Bowl turf his first two times in Orlando, rushing for a combined 467 yards and nine touchdowns as Glades Day won back-to-back Class 1B state crowns in 2009 and 2010.
In his first appearance, as a freshman, Taylor tied an FHSAA state finals record with 42 carries against South Daytona Warner Christian, running for 213 yards and four touchdowns, yet Warner still pushed the Gators to overtime. But it was just more Taylor, as Glades Day won 27-20.
For his sophomore year, more of the same. The same foe, the same field and the same close ball game, but too much Taylor. He ripped through the Warner defense like it was wet paper, carrying 44 times for 254 yards and five touchdowns and the Gators needed it all in a 42-35 Class 1B repeat.
Taylor, as most know, is the son of former Florida Gators and NFL star Fred Taylor, who ended his college career on the very same field little Taylor plans to finish his high school career. Fred Taylor torched Penn State in the 1998 CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl with a record of 234 yards rushing, still a Citrus Bowl game record. He didn’t score that day, but he didn’t need to in the Gators’ 21-6 victory.
Glades Day fell shy of a third straight trip to the Citrus Bowl this year, running into a fired up St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut team in the state semifinals and getting whooped 42-16.
Farragut ran into juggernaut North Florida Christian and was blasted in the 2A title game this year 69-0.
“I think if we could have gotten in that state championship game we would have played harder than that,” Taylor said. “I think I had a great junior year and our team did a great job getting to the semifinals.”
His junior season was highlighted by his eclipsing the state career rushing record held by Emmitt Smith, another former Florida Gator. Taylor ran for 3,052 yards and 42 touchdowns this past season to give him 9,698 yards and 141 touchdowns for his career, both state records.
He has a shot at the national high school career rushing record, but he will only be able to count his four-year high-school title, since eighth-grade competition is not recognized. So in his first three high school seasons, he has 8,114 yards. He will need 3,118 yards in his senior season to eclipse the mark of 11,232 set by the Sugarland Express Kenneth Hall, from 1950-1953 at Sugar Land (Texas) High.
Assuming Glades Day plays a full 15-game schedule in 2012, the number of games it takes to get to the state championship game, Taylor will need to average 207.8 yards per game next season. This season, in just 14 games, he averaged 218 yards, so it’s not out of the question.
Taylor remains humble and is always quick to send credit in other directions rather than accept it all himself.
“I just go out there play the game and I give God all the credit,” he said. “All that other stuff just falls into place.”
There was an early impression that Taylor had already committed to Florida, like his father, but Taylor remains undecided as he awaits his senior season.
“I haven’t committed and I don’t have a top five,” he said. “I’m just trying to get through high school, stay healthy and keep my grades up.”
For now, he’s just chillin.’ He watched a little bit of Friday’s Miami Norland 39-0 rout of Crawfordville Wakulla on TV and saw Duke Johnson run for five touchdowns and 266 all-purpose yards.
“That dude Duke Johnson … got a lot of respect for him,” Taylor said.
Dishing out more credit … that’s just the way for the Muck’s Bay Bay.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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