Football Recruiting Report
Monday, July 6, 2015

By Sammy Batten

ECU kept its eye on future CB


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By Sammy Batten
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Southern Guilford High School coach Darryl Brown considers himself a winner in the game of lost and found.

A year ago Brown lost one of the primary players on a potential state championship contender when wide receiver-safety Kenyon Taylor transferred out of the Greensboro area to live with his other parent. But much to Brown's delight, Taylor returned to Southern Guilford for the spring semester and will be back on the football field for the Storm this fall.

“He left right before the season started last year and losing him was a big blow for us,'' Brown said. “We ended up having a great year at 13-1, but he was a big piece of what we had done. Going through our summer program he was our option 1-B (on offense) along with (running back) Reggie Gallaspy (N.C. State signee).

“Kenyon moving back in over the Christmas break and knowing he'd be with us the whole spring semester was huge for us. He's part of a big senior class that have come up through our program. To have him with those guys again for his senior year – well, he'll be a big piece of our plans this year.''

East Carolina is hoping that Taylor will be a big piece of its future plans as well. The Pirates landed a verbal commitment from the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder on June 24, beating out Army and Old Dominion for his services. Taylor had previously committed to ODU on June 1, but after visiting Greenville for ECU's prospect camp later in the month he received a scholarship offer from the Pirates, which he later accepted.

ECU defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Rick Smith played a major role in recruiting Taylor, and keeping up with his comings and goings.

“People already had him on their radar going into his junior year,'' Brown said. “But after he left us he kind of got misplaced. He was sort of off people's radar.

“But Coach Smith knew about him. He came by in the spring to see a little film and talk about Kenyon. Coach Smith wanted to see him perform in person at camp. Kenyon did well (in camp) and they offered him a day or two later. He decided to commit because East Carolina was the school he wanted to go to anyway. When they offered, it was a done deal with him and his family.''

Taylor arrived at Southern Guilford as an unknown commodity after spending his middle school years at a feeder school to another area high school. But Brown immediately recognized he had a special talent.

“The first time I met him was that summer before his freshman year,'' Brown said. “He was a good looking kid. He was long and athletic and we were excited to have him.

“Then we saw him do some good things on our JV team. He was a big weapon offensively, and a real explosive tackler on the defensive side of the ball.''

Taylor moved to the Southern Guilford varsity as a sophomore, playing both safety and wide receiver. He caught 25 passes for 398 yards and a touchdown on offense, while making 21 tackles on defense.

One of the highlights of the 2013 season for Taylor occurred in a vital 17-14 conference victory against Asheboro. Taylor hauled in five passes for 148 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown reception, to key the Storm's triumph.

“The touchdown came on a third-and-15 play, and he caught it over the top off the linebackers and just ran away from the secondary,'' Brown said. “It was just a great example of his speed and ability to make explosive plays right then as a sophomore. It gave us a glimpse of what we were expecting to see last season. But right before the season started he had to move.''

Taylor left Southern Guilford for the town of Huntersville located just outside of Charlotte to live with his mother. He enrolled at Hopewell High School, where he toiled for a team that went just 2-9 during the 2014 season.

Seeing most of his action on defense, Taylor contributed 68 tackles and two tackles for loss as a junior. He also caught seven passes for 182 yards and a touchdown, and returned 11 kickoffs for 275 yards and a score.

Fortunately for Brown and the Storm, Taylor decided to move back to the Greensboro area in January to live with his father, a former football player at nearby High Point Andrews.

Taylor will be playing receiver and safety for Brown in 2015, but the Pirates are hoping to convert him into a cornerback at the next level.

“We will play him a little at cornerback, but the main reason we use him at safety is so he can cover from sideline to sideline,'' Brown said. “If we put him on one side of the field at a corner people can work away from him a lot of times.

“I know playing corner will be a different experience for him. But he's planning to graduate early and enroll at East Carolina. That should help him tremendously to get there in January and start classes and learning as much as he can next spring. He's a big corner, real long and athletic.''

Even though Taylor will likely continue to be recruited by other schools, Brown believes East Carolina will be his ultimate destination.

“He always told us East Carolina was the one place he wanted to go,'' Brown said. “That was before he even knew if they'd offer or not. He called me after he went down there to work out at camp when they made the offer. He said, 'Coach, this is where I want to be. They're the one school I always wanted to offer, so I'm ready to get this process over with now.'

“It's just a good fit for him and a good fit for East Carolina.''

Taylor becomes the first defensive back prospect to make a verbal commitment to the Pirates for the Class of 2016. He's the seventh overall player to join the class.

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07/06/2015 02:17 AM