After all the highlight DVDs, all the phone calls, all the waiting, it ended up being the friend of a coach of a teammate that wasn't even on the Countryside roster when the year started that helped land Cougars standout Alton Taylor the kind of football scholarship offer he could commit to.
Funny how things work out sometimes.
"Yeah it is," Taylor said, with a chuckle.
Last week, Taylor committed to Arkansas-Pine Bluff, after a teammate told his old coach in Fort Myers about the all-state running back. That coach then relayed the info to a connection he had in Pine Bluff.
Taylor and his family flew in for a visit, then drove 16 hours back. He was shown around by James Harrell, immediately hitting it off with the sophomore defensive back and son of the Jesuit head coach. The Countryside back committed soon after.
Taylor is relieved. Even after a breakout season in which he rushed for 1,975 yards and 30 touchdowns, he found interest waning, probably because of his size (5-foot-9, 190 pounds), frustrating him and coach John Davis, who had been singing his praises since the preseason.
Even after a big playoff game in terrible conditions against Plant and a solid performance in the county all-star game, Taylor's phone remained silent.
"It's stressful, but I knew something would come around," said Taylor, who was also considering a preferred walk-on at Florida International.
Though nothing has been promised as far as playing time, Taylor is a tireless worker who expects to earn playing time as a freshman. He had to wait his turn and work his way up at Countryside, and that attitude won't change in Pine Bluff.
"We have a saying in track, when people ask us why we're so good. We just say, "We be working,' " Taylor said. "That's my motto."
KEEP AN EYE ON: Versatile WR Ja'Juan Story is well-known in Pasco and Hernando counties, but his stature outside the North Suncoast continues to increase. He now has to be considered one of Tampa Bay's top recruits and is mentioned in the same breath as Plant's James Wilder, Alonso's Anthony Chickillo and Countryside's Tyler Moore, who has already committed to Nebraska. At 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, the speedy Nature Coast standout received offers last week from Georgia Tech, Michigan and Ohio State. … St. Petersburg Catholic lineman Dante Fowler, who played at Lakewood last year, was among those earning praise for his efforts at the Badger 7-on-7 last week. … ESPN.com reported that Freedom LB Keith Lewis picked up an offer from Michigan last week. Look for Lewis to continue receiving interest from major colleges. … Jefferson WR Chris Moore is overshadowed by teammate Andre Davis, but ESPN analyst J.C. Shurbutt writes, "While Davis certainly is deserving of high-end prospect status, there are some who believe Moore may be the more polished of the two at this point."
John C. Cotey can be reached at (813) 406-0530 or firstname.lastname@example.org.