Glades Day's Kelvin Taylor, though just a sophomore, is running toward state records
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
by Jeff Greer
Glades Day running back Kelvin Taylor needs no reminders that he's still young, that he's still just a 17-year-old sophomore.
But at the breakneck pace that Taylor is chalking up touchdowns and rushing yards, it won't be long before he becomes a high school legend in Florida.
Taylor, the son of NFL running back Fred Taylor, is seven touchdowns behind the state's all-time leader in career touchdowns, Punta Gorda-Charlotte running back Mike Bellamy, who enters his team's Friday night Class 4A regional final with 110 touchdowns.
Taylor, whose team faces Lakeland-Victory Christian in Friday's Class 1B regional final, has 101 career rushing touchdowns and two receiving.
The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Taylor is approaching the career touchdown marks set by Emmitt Smith (106) and Florida high school legends Willie Green and Tyrone Moss, who each have 107.
With Friday's game - and possibly a state final - to play this season, plus two full seasons, Taylor also is just 2,546 rushing yards shy of Smith's career rushing yardage record of 8,804.
All the record-chasing has amplified the buzz surrounding Taylor, who likely will be one of the most sought-after running backs in the nation by the time he's a senior.
Yet here in Belle Glade, Taylor keeps a relatively low profile. Neither he nor his coach, Pete Walker, knew that he was close to breaking those high school football records until being told this week.
"It's a blessing that God gave me to run the ball like that," Taylor said. "I just need to keep working hard and I hope to pass those (records) some day. But I'm just enjoying playing football."
Taylor and his teammates were enjoying themselves last Friday after Glades Day defeated Jupiter Christian 35-29 in the Region 4-1B final at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.
Taylor scored five touchdowns in that game, rushing for 437 yards on 37 carries, including a 76-yard scoring sprint with 1:32 to play that ultimately won the game for Glades Day.
It was the first-ever football game played at Roger Dean, and it was the revenge Glades Day had been dreaming about since Jupiter Christian routed the Gators, 38-14, to start the season.
Now Glades Day is a game away from returning to the state championship game, where the Gators beat South Daytona-Warner Christian 27-20 in overtime last year behind Taylor's four touchdowns and 213 yards rushing.
It was Glades Day's sixth state championship.
Taylor's No. 1 goal is a seventh.
"He just runs hard," senior offensive lineman Tyler LeCroy said. "I don't think he cares about the hype, the newspapers. He just runs to run and wants to win like the rest of us."
Questions about Taylor's future arise regularly, both about college and his workload. Glades Day is a run-heavy offense - the Gators called one passing play against Jupiter Christian - and Taylor has taken 767 hand-offs since he started playing as an eighth grader.
In June, he had offseason surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. He started the 2010 season slow, with a visible timidity, but he has only gotten stronger. In two playoff games, Taylor has 710 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
"People look at it like 'they just run him to death over there'," Taylor said. "In blowouts, I'll only touch the ball maybe five or six times. I sat out a game this year. But come playoff time, I'm ready to rock."
Recruitniks hope he's ready to roll when he gets to college, too. Taylor said he gets so much mail from colleges that sometimes he doesn't even open the packages or letters. He lists Florida as his future college on his Facebook profile, and it's no secret that he's a fan - his father was an All-American at Florida, winning a national title in 1996.
"I've thought about Florida a lot," Taylor said. "I'm looking at all schools, but I've thought about Florida a whole lot. Every school has a good shot of getting me.
"But right now, I'm just having fun."
All-time career touchdowns
TDs Name School Years
110 Mike Bellamy* Charlotte 2007-10
107 Tyrone Moss Blanche Ely/Coconut Creek 1999-02
107 Willie Green Osceola-Kissimmee 1996-99
106 Emmit Smith Escambia 1983-86
103 Kelvin Taylor* Glades Day 2008-10