Kelvin Taylor making a name for himself

BELLE GLADE, Fla. -- It was only a matter of time for Glades Day (Belle Glade, Fla.) running back Kelvin Taylor.

The 17-year-old son of former NFL All-Pro Fred Taylor had been on pace to shatter Emmitt Smith's career rushing record of 8,804 since he stepped on the field as an eighth grader.

And in the final week of the 2011 regular season, Taylor needed a little more than 200 yards against Stuart (Fla.) South Fork to make history.

He rushed for 388 yards and six touchdowns.

"He's the best football player I've ever coached," said Glades Day coach Pete Walker, who has coached quite a few good ones in a career that includes three state championships.
"The minute I saw him touch the ball, I knew I was blessed with a tremendous talent and these next few years were going to be special."

In Glades Day's first playoff game on Friday, Taylor rushed for 210 yards and three touchdowns to become the first Florida high school player to crack 9,000 rushing yards. Taylor sits at 9,175 rushing yards and 143 rushing touchdowns.

In a state that has seen great running backs such as Smith, Frank Gore, Ottis Anderson and C.J. Spiller and a rare 4,000-yard rushing season from Travis Henry in 1996, when he was a senior at Frostproof, Taylor still can't believe he's at the top of the mountain.

"You made me feel pretty special there," Taylor said. "I never really think about the records or anything. I like to win championships and everything here is a team record."

After Friday's game, Taylor was presented with a commemorative football from Smith.

"[Shout out] to Mr. Emmitt Smith, [thanks] for passing the torch and for the ball. Hope to be good like [you] and my pops [one] day," Taylor wrote on his Twitter account.

Taylor generally shies away from the attention and has spent the last two weeks thanking the guys he feels made it all possible.

"The offensive line and the receivers and really everyone that blocks for me are the ones that this record also belongs too," Taylor said. "Everyone works hard in the weight room and the coaches stay on the offensive line.

"People think it's just me out there but I've never seen anyone juke 11 guys for a touchdown. The line is where it starts."

Taylor, a junior and member of the ESPNU Watch List, should easily break the 10,000-yard mark, and given his current pace, possibly post a number that will stand for much longer than the 25 years Smith's record stood.

"It's really amazing to have a player like this in your program and not just because he's so good on the field," Walker said. "He's a joy to be around and he's a great teammate. His mom and his father and his stepfather have all done a great job in raising him.

"He doesn't buy into the records, he buys into the team and winning games."

Genetically, it's easy to see the similarities. Much like his father, Taylor is 6-foot and 190 pounds of chiseled muscle. Fred Taylor, who retired before the 2011 season after rushing for 11,695 yards and 66 TDs in 13 years, was always known to let his actions speak for him on the field and in dealing with the press. Kelvin is also quiet and much more comfortable with a helmet on and a football in his hands.

On the field, he does things similar to his dad as well. When Taylor watches film of his dad, it can be so obvious.

‘"Yeah, sometimes I see where it comes from," Kelvin Taylor said. "The jump cut is something he used to do early in his career and I get that from him.

"We have the same vision and cutting ability. I'm not as patient a runner as he was, but that will come with time."

Reidel Anthony see the similarities as well. And he would be considered an expert on the Taylors. Anthony keeps an eye on Kelvin while coaching close by at Glades Central, and he won a state championship at Glades Central and a national title at Florida in 1996 while playing with Fred.

"I mean, he's the same guy I played with here and at Florida," Anthony said. "They run the same, they act the same, they look the same and Kelvin is humble like Fred was when we played.

"You would never know if Fred rushed for 20 yards or 200 yards because his attitude and his work ethic never changed. He never took days off and it's the same way with Kelvin. He doesn't hold back anything on the field."

Father and son do watch film together and Fred has been present at several of his son's games this season.

"Dad gives me a lot of tips but we actually have a lot of fun just hanging out together," said Taylor, who has won two state titles to his dad's one. "We have a real good relationship and I learn a lot from my dad."

Given the genes and the stats, it's easy to see why Taylor is one of the most coveted recruits in a state that's loaded with talented junior running backs.

Taylor recently attended the Alabama-LSU game in Tuscaloosa and has heavy interest in both schools.

"It was such a tense game because both teams are so good on defense," Taylor said. "Coach [Les] Miles and Coach [Nick] Saban are great coaches and you knew it was going to be a battle."

Taylor says that Trent Richardson is his favorite college running back to watch and someone that he texts with quite often. The thought of following Richardson in Alabama is something that appeals to him.

"Alabama, that's a great school, that's a great program," Taylor said. "The coaches work you hard and it's a great atmosphere."

Of course, Taylor could follow his father, a former All-SEC performer at Florida. He watched the Gators host Alabama early in the season.

"I think Florida is going to be all right," Taylor said. "They will keep getting better at what they do because Coach [Will] Muschamp works so hard and demands a lot out of his players.

Taylor says he also likes South Carolina. Interesting note to remember: Steve Spurrier coached Fred Taylor when he was at Florida.

And it's not a coincidence all four schools are in the SEC. Taylor can't see himself playing anywhere else.

"SEC is the only football I really like," Taylor said. "It's fast, tough, hard-nosed, power, speed, everything; it gets you ready for the next level."

He isn't tipping his hand on where he's leaning to and he says he's going to get what he needs out of the process before making a decision.

What he wants out of his next program is simple. He wants to win.

"I want to win more than anything," Taylor said. "I want to win championships. I have two state championships and I'm trying for three.

"The program has to have a great support system, great crowd, good coaching staff and academics -- a team that's successful on the field and off the field."

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.