Highland Park's Raymon Taylor made no secret early in the process that he was a Michigan fan, but when an offer from the Wolverines never materialized, he committed to Indiana. He received a Michigan offer in December, and on his official visit this weekend, committed to the Wolverines (per fellow commit Justice Hayes), for the third commitment in the last three days.
|3*, #49 CB||4*, 5.8, #14 Ath||3*, 77, #93 Ath|
The big recruiting sites have a wide, wide range of opinion on how good a player Taylor is, and even what position he'll play. The consensus had been that he's a corner, but running back is an option as well. With Michigan's options at slot receiver, I doubt that's where he's been recruited.
Rivals and ESPN say he's 5-10, while Scout gives him the extra inch at 5-11. They're pretty much in agreement on his weight, ranging from 167 to 175, so I'd say he's right in the 170-pound ballpark. Rivals's numbers (5-10, 167) are over a year old - from last year's Army Combine - so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he's grown a bit.
We'll start the evaluations with ESPN:
He is a feisty, tough prospect that we feel has the most upside to be a cornerback at the next level with experience as a return specialist as well. Is slightly undersized, but plays big. Likes to get up in the face of the DB [sic: they mean WR] and alter routes and releases. He has adequate hips, can mirror most receivers on double moves and shows good body control and balance. Can turn and run with speedy receivers. Shows burst out of his back pedal and shows very good closing quickness when driving on the ball in front of him. Has sound catch up speed and shows good acceleration when the ball is in the air. Has good leaping ability which helps compensate for his lack of ideal height, adjusts well to the ball in the air and has excellent ball skills. Is a playmaker with the ball in his hands and will get his fair share of picks and pass break-ups. Plays with a mean streak and great enthusiasm and is surprisingly effective in run support considering his size. Attacks the line when he reads run, generally wraps up when tackling and rarely misses open field tackles he should make. Has shown he will mix it up. Plays with a good motor and always seems to be around the ball. He shows a little stiffness through the hips when on offense more so that on defense. His size may limit his effectiveness to match-up versus bigger, stronger wide receivers. Taylor is a good prospect overall and his versatility provides value.
Scout gets information from the horse's mouth:
“I’m very aggressive and have great ball skills. I make plays and change games. But I want to get bigger and add more bulk and muscle.”
Despite his lack of size, he's described as a physical player with excellent ability to play the ball in the air. That could mean that bulking up a bit and playing free safety is an option.
As an Indiana decommit, he held a Hoosier offer - and in fact was one of the headliners of their class. According to Scout, he also held offers from Illinois, Pitt, and Iowa - where under-the-radar DBs become All-Americans.
An early commitment prevented him from racking up a huge offer list, but Rivals also credits him with a Wisconsin offer, in addition to Cincinnati and Toledo.
Scout lists his senior stats:
Raymon Taylor finished his senior season (4-3) with 48 tackles and five interceptions. He also played running back and wide receiver had around 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns on offense.
ESPN also has junior and senior stats:
2010: Rushed for 879 yards and 13 touchdowns. Intercepted five passes. Division IV All-State selection... 2009: Caught 50 passes for 600 yards and six touchdowns. Intercepted seven passes (two returned for touchdowns)...
Yay for Raymon.
FAKE 40 TIME
Scout is the only recruiting site listing a 40 time for Taylor, crediting him with a 4.43. Although he's known as a very athletic defensive back, that's a truly elite time. I'll give it three FAKEs out of five. He's a sprinter as well, with a 6.94 60m dash.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
It's hard to even project a position for Taylor, much less how he'll perform once he gets on the field. With Michigan's recent avalanche of defensive backs, I think there's a good chance he ends up playing safety.
Since that's the case, a redshirt is mandatory, as he's pretty slight no matter what position he'll play, and Michigan now has enough players available to have the luxury of redshirting freshmen in the defensive backfield. After his redshirt year, he'll have a couple years to work into the lineup on special teams - including as a return man, where ESPN notes he has great ability.
By the time he leaves Ann Arbor, Taylor has the athleticism to be an NFL Draft pick and an All-Big Ten player if he's developed properly.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan needs MOAR DBs apparently. As noted above, I think Taylor could end up playing safety, which is a position of need for the class.
Since the class of 2011 is unlikely to completely fill up, Taylor's commitment isn't going to put a serious crunch on remaining players available. The only focus is filling the remaining positions of need, including the defensive line, quarterback, tight end, and linebacker.