Kelvin Taylor and his Glades Day Gators have played 9 games this season, with their only blemish coming against Derrick Henry’s Yulee squad who was in a higher class than his school anyways.
If any of you got the chance to watch the game live you saw two backs that will likely be #1 and #2 in the all time rushing yardage nationally and in the state of Florida for high school. If you had the chance to watch the ESPNU presentation then you probably actually got a better feel for the talent that each player has (but probably more in particular Kelvin). Since Derrick is going to ‘Bama (and I never thought he’d be a Gator, at least not at RB) this post will focus more on Kelvin, the son of All-Pro and Gator great Fred Taylor.
But just for comparison sakes let’s do a quick comparison and a quick review of the record they will break. Both backs are chasing down a 60 yr old record held by Ken Hall who played high school ball in Texas. He accumulated 11,232 yards in his 4 years:
• Henry currently has 10,700 yards and is 532 yards from becoming the new record holder. He has one more regular season game and then playoff games, at least 1.
• Kelvin has already broken the record unofficially. The state of Florida recognizes the 8th grade statistics. Nationally statistics are measured from your 9th to 12th grade years. Taylor has 11,418 yards unofficially, but officially he has 9,874 yards. He has 1,760 yards for the season, leaving him 1,358 yards shy of the record. He has one more regular season game and at least 1 more playoff game. In Kelvin’s freshman season he gained 1,163 yards in 4 playoff games in route to a state championship. Kelvin breaking the record is very possibly and likely.
• Henry averages 33.11 attempts per game at an average of 9.62 yards per attempt and 318.44 yards per game. He also averages 4.22 touchdowns a game for 38 through 9.
• Kelvin averages 17.11 attempts per game at an average of 11.43 yards per attempt and 195.56 yards per game. He also averages 3.56 touchdowns a game for 32 through 9.
The most glaring difference between those two for me is the number of carries. Henry has nearly double what Kelvin has, which explains why Derrick has past Taylor in the official race.
However Gator fans, do we really care if Kelvin sets some national high school record? Ken Hall wasn’t some world beater post high school. Kelvin will still be the record holder for the state of Florida (Emmitt Smith and Trent Richardson were record holders at one point, they turned out to be pretty good, no?) which is more important to us anyways, I mean we are Florida.
But what is more encouraging about these numbers is that Kelvin is not getting worn down prior to taking his talents and namesake to Gainesville. Adam Lane, the other Florida RB commit is averaging 16.33 attempts a game through 9 games this season. Lane is coming back from a broken leg and is not the sole focus of his team's offense either. I use Lane as a comparison to help illustrate why this is so impressive. This is encouraging when you factor in how much football Taylor has played so far in his life and consider how his father at times struggled with injuries.
As far as talent back to the Yulee vs. Glades Day game, where we saw the two best record setting high school running backs in the nation. From Kelvin’s first carry you saw why scouts love his play and ability. The kid has wiggle, vision, and jump cuts most running backs have to develop in college before they can perform it with any efficiency. Heck, there are backs in the NFL that can’t or won’t make cuts like what Taylor was showing in that game and over his career.
While Matt Jones is a big back, I firmly believe next season will begin as a running back by committee until Taylor, who is enrolling early, is deemed up to speed and claims the main spot. No one should expect this kid to start breaking records in college, but if Mike Gillislee is somehow unable to break the millennial mark, Taylor is probably the best bet of the Gators' core of backs that Florida will have next season.
If you haven’t seen the Glades Day vs. Yulee game it is worth a look, just skip the Yulee offense (which is just some man child over running little kids), so you can enjoy the beauty of Kelvin going up against a 10 man box at times, and still getting positive yards, even breaking some nice runs.