After Speaking with my Parents and Coaches, I am blessed to say, I have committed to The University of Michigan pic.twitter.com/nZa5jQELtD
— Kurt Taylor (@KurtTaylorRB2) October 16, 2015
Three-star 2017 Covington (GA) Newton running back Kurt Taylor committed to Michigan on Friday afternoon, before, you know, all of that happened.. Taylor named the Wolverines as his leader when they offered him in August, had a great trip for the BYU game, and didn't need to wait until the Michigan State game to announce his commitment on his latest campus visit.
Taylor is the third Michigan commit in the 2017 class, joining tight end Carter Dunaway and cornerback Benjamin St-Juste.
|3* RB||3*, #19 RB||NR RB||
3*, 88, #24 RB,
3*, #35 RB,
All the sites save ESPN have Taylor ranked as a three-star, though he's within sniffing distance of four-star territory on 247 and Rivals. He's a short, solidly built back, listed at either 5'8" or 5'9" and right around 200 pounds on all four recruiting services. Taylor already looks like he's come relatively close to maxing out his frame.
[Hit THE JUMP for the full, informative commitment post.]
Scout's free evaluation pegs Taylor as a classic Harbaugh back:
EvaluationTaylor is a running back that looks like he has already been in a college weight program for a couple of years. He is physically fit, very strong, and back who can hit the hole on the interior or get to the perimeter. Better burst and quick acceleration than top-end speed. Can definitely break tackles and get yards after initial contact. Loves to compete. Plays with some attitude.
Areas to Improve
- Breakaway Speed
Despite not having the type of game that normally translates to standout camp performances, Taylor impressed on the circuit this year. Scout's Matt DeBary went into detail on his position MVP outing at June's Atlanta MVP camp:
Kurt Taylor is a guy I have seen twice now in the past two weeks, and he did not disappoint. Taylor is a workout warrior who looks like a bowling ball. He looks very impressive physically, and did a nice job catching the ball out of the backfield. Listed at 5’8, 201 pounds, Taylor has plenty of muscles, and runs well with a low center of gravity. He showed good balance, and made one particular catch falling down on the sideline that was very impressive. He continues to get better every time I see him, and has the potential to be a big time prospect in the 2017 class.
Among top competition at the Atlanta regional of The Opening in May, Taylor stood out to 247's Steve Wiltfong:
A pair of 2017 running backs were fantastic in Orange Park (Fla.) Fleming Island’s Daequantae Showers and Covington (Ga.) Newton’s Kurt Taylor. ... This writer would’ve absolutely loved to see the 5-foot-9, 194-pound Taylor in a padded camp, but this young man brings it as a powerful and decisive ball carrier. Both up-and-comers have SEC offers with more to come.
Taylor was also mentioned as a top offensive performer at FSU coach Jimbo Fisher's camp, but there aren't extensive writeups on him from those camps.
The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan saw Taylor in a practice setting earlier this year and provided this scouting report after his commitment ($):
Taylor is a 5-9, 201-pounder bowling ball of a runner, with the power to blast through defenders if they don't use strong technique to bring him down. He is a one-cut style of runner, and he excels finding the hole in the defense and running dead ahead.
He's not the shiftiest back - though that's something he's worked to improve on - and is more a small power back with speed. While he's not likely to run by defensive backs in college like he does in high school, he can make a defense pay for allowing him to get to the second level. Taylor is also a very hard-working, team-first player, capable and willing as a blocker. He's improving as a pass-catcher, as well, and could start his career as a third-down back.
Again, sounds like a Harbaugh back. 247's Clint Brewster provided a similar take after watching Taylor's film, adding the question that will determine Taylor's collegiate success:
Taylor isn't a home-run back that's going to take it the distance or snap off long runs. He's a power-runner that's going to get you tough yards. The big question is does he have enough quick-twitch explosiveness and lateral agility to be a great back at the next level? Everything else is there. He finds the hole well and has excellent vision. Also a very good blocker in pass [protection].
That blocking ability could get Taylor on the field early if he proves to be a passable receiving option, which seems to be the case based on camp reports. Everything else screams De'Veon Smith, Georgia Edition.
Taylor held offers from Cincinnati, Colorado State, Georgia Southern, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Navy, Rutgers, Vanderbilt, and several others of equal or lesser note. 247 lists interest but no offer from Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami (YTM), UNC, South Carolina, Tennessee, UCLA, and Wake Forest.
While Newton plays in the largest classification in Georgia (6A), they haven't produced much in the way of college talent: Taylor and 2011 Virginia signee DJ Hill are the only three-star prospects to come out of Newton in the Rivals era (2002-present).
In seven games so far this season, Taylor has a region-high 729 rushing yards and ten touchdowns on 109 carries (6.7 YPC); he's added seven receptions for 94 yards, per MaxPreps.
As a sophomore, Taylor rushed for 462 yards and four TDs on 74 carries (6.2 YPC).
FAKE 40 TIME
Taylor's Hudl page lists an unverified 4.48-second 40 time. Given the questions about his top speed, that gets five FAKEs out of five.
Mid-season junior highlights:
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Taylor will be one of several running backs battling for time when he gets to campus. The competition in 2017 could be wide open; De'Veon Smith, Drake Johnson, and Derrick Green will be out of eligibility, leaving Ty Isaac, Karan Higdon, Wyatt Shallman, and next year's freshmen to fight it out for a spot on the two-deep with Taylor.
Who next year's freshmen will be is uncertain; this will be addressed in much greater detail tomorrow, but Matt Falcon is now being offered only a medical scholarship, not a football scholarship, and Kingston Davis still plans to take visits. Between the presence of Kiante Enis and Chris Evans in the class and the potential addition of Kareem Walker, Michigan shouldn't be hurting for backs. That said, Taylor should be in the mix, and nobody who's slated to be on the roster at that point has proven much of anything.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
There will be many more players, presumably.