Darvin Taylor Joins The Seminoles
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Aug 28, 2014, 16:13
Darvin Taylor II announced he will be attending Florida State before calling head coach Jimbo Fisher
CHESTER — Inside a dimly lit Thomas Dale High School auditorium, Knights defensive lineman and four-star recruit Darvin Taylor II sat atop the stage with his parents flanked on either side of him with his arms folded across a table adorned with the familiar grey of the Knights' uniforms. Placed on either corner of the table was a helmet with the Knights insignia and the other with the No. 60.
In the seats in front of Taylor sat the entire Thomas Dale football team, friends, family and media who diverged on the high school for Taylor's announcement about what football program he will be committing to for the 2015 season. It was a process which started almost two years ago when Thomas Dale head coach Kevin Tucker sent out the very first highlight tape of Taylor and he immediately grabbed interest and two offers.
Those offers would be just the start of many to come Taylor's way over the next 16 plus months, including one's from Penn State, Virginia Tech, Miami and last year's National Champion Florida State University. And while Taylor said he has known his school of choice for a few months, it wasn't until Thursday afternoon, the date of his 17th birthday, when he made his choice official.
Reaching underneath the grey cloaked table, Taylor sprang upward with a Seminoles hat and matching gloves while announcing he would be attending Florida State. However, it would not be made official until he placed a phone call to defensive tackle coach Odell Haggins — his primary recruiter — who then passed the phone to head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Taylor, visibly tearing up at the enormity of what he was about to say, had just one emotional sentence to tell his future coach.
"I'd like to commit to Florida State University, today," he said. Fisher responded by saying, "Welcome to the family," which caused an eruption of applause from those in attendance.
The scene was something even Tucker sensed would happen when he witnessed a 9th grader walk to the practice field in slides and was immediately impressed with his size. Tucker asked one of his assistants who Taylor was and quickly told them to bring him over to the varsity practice because he won't be on junior varsity for long.
And that's exactly what happened for Taylor who split his freshman year playing on both varsity and JV, becoming one of the top players in the country. In fact, based on recruiting services, the 6-foot-3, 304-pound defensive tackle is ranked between the top 140 and 150 players in the nation. His status as one of the top players in the country allowed him the opportunity to choose the school he wanted to attend and it never wavered from Florida State.
"I always wanted to go to a place where losing just one game is a bad season, a lost season," Taylor explained of the Seminoles' success. "We have pretty good depth at every position and as far as learning from those guys who have a chance to play in the NFL next year, that's how you get better."
And even Taylor has received numerous accolades already in his three years at Thomas Dale, he can now focus on his senior season and improving his totals from one year ago in which he compiled 47 total tackles and recovered two fumbles. But that is only part of the story for Taylor.
He doesn't just view Florida State as a means to possibly make the National Football League — although that is still a goal of his moving forward — but he also noticed the type of education he can receive as a student. In fact, the honor roll student at Thomas Dale with a 3.4 GPA already has plans of a life post football which includes majoring in communication and being among the media.
It's one of the reasons the 17-year-old couldn't help but shed a few tears while on the phone with Fisher to verbally commit to the Seminoles program as he thought about all the adversity it took to reach this point.
"I get that emotion from my mom as you can see," Taylor said of the moment. "It's just thinking about all those people who said I wouldn't be able to do anything ... Now this is my day. It's my 17th birthday and I was just really thankful to know where I'll be going to school for the next four or five years."
Darvin Taylor II holds up his Seminoles' gloves after talking to a group of media members.
With the school he will be attending in place, the senior defensive tackle is now intent on finishing out his Knights career strongly. He aims to continue getting better throughout each game, get stronger through lifting and do whatever it takes to make an impact at the next level.
He enters a Seminoles squad which will be in need of lineman as it was a key area of recruitment for the Class of 2015. But even though Taylor knows he was highly regarded by Florida State, he wants to fulfill those expectations by producing right away.
"I want to leave a legacy wherever I am," he said.
He's already left a profound one at Thomas Dale where he was a four-year varsity starter, but the next step awaits in Tallahassee where the games are more important, the spotlight more glaring and the fans more intense, all of which the son of a serviceman is more than ready to face head-on next season.