Friday, May 15, 2015

Taylor is a human highlight reel in the Inland Empire

J.J. Taylor has not only landed four scholarship offers from the NCAA Division I realm, he's become an internet sensation with his array of moves on the football field (photo contributed). 
With his swift feet, field vision and his determination to keep both legs pumping against defenses, J.J. Taylor is a highlight reel waiting to happen.

Lately, the diminutive 5-foot-6 Taylor has become an internet sensation, with over 10,000 online viewers watching him either run through a defense in shoulder pads on Hudl, or getting a defender to do the splits after spinning away from him on You Tube.

Taylor’s Hudl film shows the Centennial High School (Corona) running back barging through an open hole, breaking loose from a defender trying to grab onto his uniform or ankles and then exploding into a speedy second gear for the long touchdown score. The twister maneuver he pulled on a defender at Passing Down’s Southern California regional on March 29 has not only landed on You Tube, but has surfaced on popular video website World Star Hip Hop and got former NFL wide receiver Bernard Berrian sharing the video to his Instagram followers.

Taylor caught a screen pass from his quarterback Tate Martell while competing with 702 Elite of Las Vegas. Taylor, who caught the pass on the right side of the field, planted his right foot toward an oncoming defender who was getting ready to tag him. But Taylor spun out of that defender’s way, leaving the defender falling to the Fontana sprint turf with his legs stretched out.

While his viral plays have gotten ooh’s and ah’s from spectators, family members and football fans browsing the internet, Taylor said he’s not bragging about being a sudden online star.

“I honestly wouldn't say that was the best play I've ever had,” Taylor said. “My dad loves it and my friends say I'm famous now, but I don't like to think that way until I'm in the NFL Hall of Fame one day and I hope that happens. That's always been my biggest dream.”

The Class of 2016 prospect has started to see a spike in his recruiting period. He’s landed four NCAA Division I scholarship offers from Montana State, Weber State, Sacramento State and the University of Ohio.

“All the conversations so far have been about building a relationship with them and what I want to study; plus all the good stuff the school has to offer,” Taylor said.

The 170-pounder led the Huskies with 1,657 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns last season. Three of his banner nights were against traditional Southern California powerhouses Orange Lutheran (266 yards), Long Beach Poly (200 yards) and Santiago of Corona (253 yards with six touchdowns).

While he’s received four scholarship pledges and has gained more notice in the talent heavy Inland Empire, Taylor said he thinks that most big time college football programs won’t make a run at him.

“To be honest when I was a kid I had two favorite schools: Arizona State and Boise State. But as I got older, I realized my size was going to limit me,” Taylor said. “So now, whoever is willing to take a chance on me is my favorite school - and those are the schools that offered me so far.”

Taylor, who’s listed as a 3-star prospect by recruiting websites Rivals and Scout, said that he’s mainly getting looks at running back but other coaches have told him they would consider playing him at a different position.  

“So far their interest (in me) has been at running back, but most of them have been talking about getting me in where I can fit,” Taylor said. “All I really want to do is play.”

Taylor describes himself as a leader by example and adds “I get the team going without verbal motivation.”

But through all the attention he’s received for his highlight reel plays, is he motivated by the opponents who underestimate him because of his stature?

“Honestly, I don't have anything to say to those who underestimate me. I let my talent show what I can really do,” Taylor said. 

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