Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
The Recruiting Guy:
Arkansas history with tight ends a draw for recruit
Tight end Shield Taylor has a good amount of interest in the University of Arkansas because of the Hogs’ history of producing top tight ends and his relationship with tight ends coach Jon Cooper.
“We’ve been talking about the program and how they use their tight ends,” Taylor said. “They have a long history of producing tight ends. That’s very attractive.”
Taylor, 6-4, 235 pounds, of Alexandria, La., has 24 scholarship offers from schools such as Arkansas, Stanford, Duke, Georgia Tech, Boise State, Northwestern, Tulane and others.
Cooper includes Taylor’s mother, Rhonda, in the conversations.
“She really likes him,” Taylor said. “He made it his goal to build a personal relationship with her as well, and I think she really enjoys that.”
His mother also likes that Arkansas is close to home.
Taylor hopes to play in the NFL, and Cooper tells him the Hogs can get him there.
“He always tells me he sees a lot of potential in my game, and he emphasizes progressing me in the game of football,” Taylor said. “I would like to go to the pros one day. He said he can help me get there. He said their program can help me accomplish those dreams.”
Taylor said he consistently talks to about 12 schools, which requires planning.
“It definitely helps to have a schedule. You’ll schedule meetings with the coaches, and they call and we’ll get on Zoom and we’ll watch some film,” Taylor said. “But I also have to work around my mom’s schedule because she’s working. They want her on the call as well.”
He calls his mother his hero.
“My three older siblings are off in college, so a lot of times it’s just me and her,” Taylor said. “She’s definitely the toughest person I’ve ever met. I owe her the world. She sets a great example for us in what we want to be one day in our lives. It’s hard to see my mom in a bad mood. She always has a smile on her face. Just ready to attack the day.”
National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network rates Taylor a 3-star-plus prospect.
“He has good size, good all-around athletic ability and is a blocking titan,” Lemming said. “The ability is there.”
Taylor, who has a 4.3 grade-point average, is considering biomedical engineering as a major.
The NCAA recently extended the dead period to June 30 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it could be extended again when the NCAA coordination committee meets May 27. The dead period forbids on-campus visits for prospects.
Trying to figure out which school to attend is complicated because of the restrictions.
“It’s definitely going to be a lot on my part to do research into the programs that I’m interested in and come up with the best decision,” Taylor said. “There’s so much data on the internet. You can find out about a college without going there. The coaches are doing a great job of providing information and doing virtual tours.”
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