It was about this time last year, that Carson Wentz, from little known North Dakota State University, had begun his meteoric rise up NFL draft boards. Multiple reports, and twitter rumors pegged a new quarterback-needy team to the small town kid almost daily. Luckily, when all the dust settled Wentz had his named called second overall in the 2016 NFL draft and was picked by the Philadelphia Eagles. As they say, “the rest is history”.
We all know the story. Named the starter a week before the regular season, Wentz came out of the gate on fire. He cooled off in the middle of the season before surging in form toward the end. Even with all the talent showcased during the season, somehow, the idea of a small school prospect being drafted, let alone in the first round continued to fuel barstool arguments amongst NFL fanatics.
However, the talent and success of Carson Wentz have not been an isolated occurrence, Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, “Mean” Joe Green & Joe Flacco all shined during the collegiate careers in lower-profile environments. The idea of finding the next superstar, while shopping in the small school aisle, is still looked at outside the league as taboo. For the Eagles, it could be a gateway to greatness.
In this series ,we will feature one small school/lesser known prospect a week. That aren’t only worth reading about, but just might be the next glimmer of hope come late April. Up first?
A wide receiver out Western Kentucky. The 6’1, 195-pound receiver caught 225 passes for 3,844 yards and 40 touchdowns during his 42 game career.
Averaging 17.1 yards a catch and leading his team with 52 plays of over 20-plus yards, Taylor was a complete nightmare to opposing defensive coordinators. In 2015, He led the team while breaking school records in receptions (86), touchdowns(17), and yards (1,467).
Taylor had many a game where he stood out, but it was when the Hill Toppers faced LSU (No.5 ranked at the time) that his skill-set really opened eyes. Even with LSU’s defensive talent dominating the rest of the Taylor’s team mates, Taywan smoothly ran in, out, and around the LSU bully. He finished with 10 catches for 103 yards, and a touchdown, impressive by anyone’s standards.
In 2016, Taylor followed up his record breaking year, by breaking two of the three records he already owned. Catching 89 balls, for 1,586 yards, and 16 touchdowns. In his senior year, he would become the obvious choice for defenses to game plan for. Yet to no avail, Taylor would go on to dominate one defense after another.
This includes the boys from Tuscaloosa. In week 2, Taylor led his team into Alabama and although they left without the win, he made something very clear to the “tide” and the rest of college football. That he’s a tidal wave of talent and it would behuve any opposing defense to stay out of his way. 9 more catches along with 121 yards receiving, all while outplaying first round prospect Marlon Humphrey had made it official. He was a small school Giant.
The one thing that stood out the most from the Louisville, Kentucky native, was his ability to shine in big-game and pressure situations. From the stage of Tuscaloosa, to his two bowl game masterpieces. (7 rec 104 yds. against USF/ 9 rec 144 yds against Memphis.) No matter who the opponent was, Taywan Taylor has shown that he could become the ultimate “small school gem” of this years draft.
Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports