Post Top 25 countdown: No. 12 Glades Day
Sunday, August 19, 2012
by Matt Porter
Kelvin Taylor is already the most decorated running back in Florida history, the state's all-time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns, the country's top-rated running back recruit and a future Florida Gator.
Don't expect this to be his victory lap.
"Man, we're ready," Taylor said. "We can't take nothing for granted like we did last year. We thought we were winning state last year. We weren't ready."
In his senior season, Taylor wants a third state championship since he began carrying the ball as an eighth-grader. He also has a shot at breaking the national record for career rushing yards set nearly 60 years ago.
"Me and him have talked about it a little bit, but it's not something we're focusing on," Glades Day coach Pete Walker said. "We want to take home another state title. If it happens along the way, fine."
Taylor, the son of former NFL, UF and Glades Central running back Fred Taylor, broke Emmitt Smith's state rushing record of 8,804 yards last season. He enters the year as Florida's all-time leader in rushing yards (9,530) and touchdowns (148).
He would need a career-best season to break the national record of 11,232 yards, set by Texas legend Ken "The Sugar Land Express" Hall in 1953. Throwing out his eighth-grade season -- the National Federation of High Schools only recognizes totals amassed from grades 9-12 -- Taylor has 7,946 yards. He would need 3,286 yards this fall, a significant jump from the career-high 2,884 he had in 13 games last year.
What would help is a deep playoff run. If Glades Day captured a state title -- its first since championships in 2009 and 2010 -- Taylor would play 14 games. He would need about 235 yards per game to set the record.
"I don't really think about records," Taylor said. "When the season's over, I'll be like, 'Wow, I rushed for that many yards.' Until then, I'm just going to have fun with my teammates."
Last year, Glades Day (9-4) outlasted Jupiter Christian in the Class 2A regional final but lost 42-16 to St. Petersburg-Admiral Farragut in a state semifinal.
Walker said "there's no doubt in my mind" his team has more depth, an improved defense and a better offensive line than last year.
The Gators' offensive line averages 260 pounds and includes behemoths like 6-foot-2, 300-pound South Fork transfer Cody McGahee. Those players will contribute to a strong defensive front. Senior fullback and middle linebacker Jose Penton is a two-way standout.
Aside from the simple, power-running plays Taylor and his teammates have perfected, Walker said he'll use sophomore quarterback Josh Carr to keep teams off balance. He can throw to shifty senior Nigel Allen and two skyscraping seniors at tight end: 6-6, 220-pound Nathan Lee, who transferred from Moore Haven, and 6-4, 195-pound Calvin Darville.
Taylor, who is 5-11 and bulked up to 215 pounds, ran track in the spring and increased his speed. Walker said Taylor's 40-yard dash this month was hand-timed at 4.48 seconds, lower than the 4.63 he clocked at a national summer combine.
"He's bigger and faster," Walker said. "His best is yet to come."