|Running back J.J. Taylor of state power Centennial High School of Corona announced his verbal commitment to Arizona on July 18 (photo contributed).|
J.J. Taylor of Centennial High School in Corona, who’s one of six national recruits suiting up for the Huskies this fall, verbally committed to the University of Arizona on July 18.
The 5-foot-6, 160-pound running back led Centennial with 1,657 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns according to Max Preps. Taylor received his pledge from the Wildcats on June 6, but said his weekend trip to the Tuscon campus solidified his decision.
“The trip was just the cherry on top,” Taylor said. “The way they do things out there had me really excited because I feel I will develop into a great young man.”
With his stature, Taylor looks nothing like a prototypical NFL running back and is built like Boise State wide receiver/return man Shane Williams-Rhodes.
But, when the Centennial speedster sets foot on the field, size becomes an afterthought.
Taylor launches into an open hole, breaks free from arm tackles, then turns on the afterburners to score touchdowns for the state powerhouse. He’s also an internet sensation, with Under The Radar Sports Media highlighting one leg breaking move he executed on a defender during the Passing Down So Cal regional in March 2015 at Fontana. The video has received over 8,000 views on You Tube.
He’ll be going to a running back-catered offense at Arizona. The Wildcats racked up an average of 181.9 yards per game on the ground, placing them at fifth in the PAC-12 last year. Nick Wilson was last season’s top cat in the running attack, as the true freshman ran for 1,375 yards and scored 16 touchdowns.
“I’m very excited to be playing in this offense,” Taylor said. “I’m hoping it’s a smooth transition from high school to college.”
Taylor adds that his conversations with Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez contributed to his college choice.
“He was great. He’s a coach I will love playing for,” Taylor said.
Taylor held five other scholarships from Ohio University, Nevada, Montana State, Weber State and Washington State. His other highly recruited teammates are wide receiver Javon McKinley, safety Chacho Ulloa, offensive tackle Daniel Juarez, cornerback Kentrell Love and cornerback/safety Cam Bynum. All of them currently hold 72 scholarship offers between them and Juarez and Bynum have verbally pledged to California-Berkeley.
Taylor said he has no desire to turn away from Arizona.
“I’m locked in so now I can focus on my senior year,” Taylor said.
He adds that he wants last year’s CIF Southern Section PAC-5 Division champion to hoist a different title this December: the state championship trophy. The Huskies fell 63-42 to De La Salle of Concord for the 2014-15 Open Division state title.
"We want to make it to state again and this time take it all," Taylor said.