Taylor Is Leading Hopewell
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Oct 16, 2013, 07:58
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
HOPEWELL — Tabyus Taylor envisions himself dribbling feverishly up the court with his team down by two and the game clock quickly draining itself of alloted time.
Tick, tick, tick. The clock shows just 3.0 seconds left as Taylor rises and fires from beyond the three-point line. A swish followed by deafening roars of the crowd fill the NBA arena.
If Taylor had it his way, in about four years he’d be suiting up for an NBA team, fulfilling a dream of his since childhood by playing the game he truly loves. But circumstances dictate the senior is closer to playing football at the collegiate level, as genes have not cooperated with his lofty goals.
“I’ve played football since I was younger, but I didn’t really like it that much,” Taylor said with a laugh. “Then, I wasn’t growing anymore so my focus switched to football.”
Surprising himself, it’s where he has excelled the most, showing off his athletic ability between the white lines instead of the hardwood.
Last season, Taylor was named an All-Metro wide receiver, in addition to being named to the second-team All-State. His size and strength allowed him to overpower corners to nab passes within arm’s length.
And once he catches one, there is no hope in catching him.
“There aren’t many 6-foot-1 small forwards out there in Division I basketball,” Hopewell head coach Ricky Irby said. “But there are outside linebackers and receivers. With the skill-set he brings, they don’t come around very often.”
It’s that talent which allowed Taylor to haul in 55 catches for 938 yards and 12 touchdowns last season as a wide receiver. He averaged over 85 yards per game with his ability to shake off defenders at will.
Yet, that is actually where he has improved this season.
No longer a wide receiver, Taylor is the Blue Devils’ starting quarterback. His dual-threat ability to run out of the pocket for big gains has him as the team’s leading rusher in just five full games played.
The senior never runs east or west, but instead is always on a north and south plane, bowling over, carrying and shaking off opposing defenders as he picks up big gains. His 95 carries for 610 yards and six touchdowns lead Hopewell, making opponents zero in on stopping him in their game-plan each and every week.
But they can’t as No. 5 racks up an eye-popping 6.4 yards per carry and 16.2 yards per catch this season.
“Adrian Peterson,” Taylor said of the player he emulates. “I like to run them over and gain the extra yards anyway I can.”
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
“He’s a very strong and very powerful runner,” he explained. “He may be a Division I running back. A lot of schools like him at outside linebacker and receiver, but he’s gotten so much bigger than he was last year ... he can run over you or around you.”
He hasn’t just grown. Taylor has also worked on his craft tirelessly after being informed he would be the team’s quarterback. The senior had to learn everything from learning different routes, all the plays and the blocking schemes of his young offensive line.
And it’s how he has grown from the first week to the last week which tantalizes those around him as to how good he can be.
In his first start of the season against Powhatan, Taylor left those in attendance in awe with his raw ability and frustrated with frequent turnovers in the fourth quarter. His 67-yard touchdown pass to Jarvezz Brown was negated by four interceptions, three of which in the second half.
But Taylor’s has seemed to turnaround his turnover-prone ways, throwing just one interception over the past three games after throwing five in the previous two contests.
“He’s a kid who wants to be great and he’s going to do all the little things to get better and better,” Irby said. “The more experience he gets, the more time goes by, the better he’s going to get. We’ve seen it already from game-to-game.”
But no one saw a game quite like the one he put together against Colonial Heights coming in his future.
Taylor racked up 289 all-purpose yard and tallied six touchdowns in four separate offensive categories. His diversified skill-set left the Colonials clueless on how to stop him, allowing him to haul in two receiving touchdowns, throw two touchdown passes, run in a rushing touchdown and a return a 60-yard kick-off.
Yet, even though he shined the brightest of all the Hopewell players during a team-wide effort, Taylor quickly heaped some praise on his offensive line for opening holes for him to creep through all season long.
“From a young line, they are doing a really good job,” Taylor said. “Coach Moore has them working every day to open up the holes for both me and Gabe Dupree. It makes it a lot easier.”
And having a player with the talent of No. 5 makes things easier for his
Hopewell teammates and coaches.
Instead of dribbling down a court with time expiring, Taylor is operating drives down the field, picking up critical third-down conversions with both his arm and legs, making him a defense’s worst nightmare and a coach’s dream.