The decision had been clear in Garrett Taylor’s mind since he made his way to Ann Arbor for the first time two weeks ago.
“"I have officially committed to play football for the University of Michigan!!! Those who stay will be champions #TheTeam #GoBlue,” he tweeted moments ago.
The decision puts an exclamation point on Michigan’s rapid rise up the four-star cornerback’s list. Brady Hoke was one of the first head coaches to drop by Taylor’s school January of his sophomore year, but the Wolverines fell from his list of favorites afterward when they didn’t offer him a scholarship. Michigan assistant Roy Manning kept the Maize & Blue alive, though, with frequent reassurances to Taylor that he remained a viable target. Those words were given greater meaning in mid-February when Brady Hoke extended a scholarship offer.
“I was truly excited,” Taylor said. “I think the thing that was holding them back the most was their ’14 class. (Manning) was saying ’15 class like really small relative to their past classes. They had to see how many DBs they were going to sign in their ’14 class and how much room they had in the ’15 class. Once they kind of sorted that all out, they came back around and were able to offer me a scholarship.”
“Coach Manning and I are real cool,” he said. “When I first started talking to him I would call almost every night or so and we would talk for almost about an hour each time. He is just a real down-to-earth guy. He is a football coach, but that is not all he cares about. He asks me about my mom and my dad every time we see speak. I really hit it off well with him. He is a real down-to-earth guy. He is cool, he is funny. We really have a cool connection. I like him a lot. I’m glad he is my recruiting coach.”
When the two finally met face to face during Taylor’s first Michigan visit a few weeks ago it was more like a reunion than it was an introduction. The same was true with the rest of the coaching staff.
“My interaction with the coaches was really great.,” Taylor said. “Obviously Coach Manning is my recruiting coach and my position coach, which actually works out really well. I’ve already built a relationship with him. Then from there on. I got a chance to meet the rest of the coaching staff and that was Coach Mattison. We talked with him for 30-45 minutes, not on just football but other stuff, which was good. It was Coach Mattison and all the other coaches.”
“Coach Mallory… It was good to talk to him. It is kind of funny because Coach Manning kind of chuckled a bit because Coach Mallory wants me to become a safety. They kind of fight over that, which is kind of funny. We definitely had a good time with Coach Hoke. We got to sit down with the family and talked to them and that went really well. We had a really good talk. Not even like the main coaches, the offensive coaches I met too, Coach Nussmeier, I know he is new there, but I met him a couple of times. We joked around and even some of the assistants…I was messing around and having a good time. It really felt like a family atmosphere and someplace I can definitely see myself.”
There were numerous other positive attributes… from his connections with players like Wilton Speight and Derrick Green, to the surprisingly short travel time from Richmond to Ann Arbor, to the extremely impressive combination of facilities and academic support.
“We got to go to the school of business… the Ross School of Business, which is really great,” Taylor reported. “The professor toured us around, which was really great. I’ve never had that before. So we toured around, saw the classrooms and stuff like that. It was really personal. We obviously toured all the facilities and the football facilities are great. We got to see all the resources they have in terms of their Glick Fieldhouse. That was big to see a full indoor field, especially with the weather. They go over there sometimes and to have that as a resource is really good. We got to see the weight room. Then we met with Shari (Acho), the head lady of all the academic support so that was great to see. We got a tour of the academic side. You’ve definitely got the support of the tutors and everything like that to make sure that you’re on track academically. It was awesome. It was awesome! It really felt like they wanted me to be up there.”
And now he officially will be. Taylor adds size to an already heralded defensive back class that also includes four-star Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward cornerback Shaun Crawford and four-star Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne safety Tyree Kinnel. Some scouts believe the St. Christopher’s star could very easily be a safety at the college level, but Michigan indicated that we will line up at corner in Ann Arbor.
Scout.com Recruiting analyst Michael Clark on Taylor’s game: “Taylor is a physical corner with good size and instincts. He does a nice job of reading the quarterback's eyes and has good ball skills. Taylor also does a good job of shedding blocks and is very good in run support. Overall, Taylor has a lot of natural ability. He could play either cornerback or safety at the next level.”
Richmond St. Christopher’s head coach Michael Turner: “Garret actually started as a true freshman for us on a team that went to the state finals and had an unbelievable year. He returned two fumbles for a touchdown. At the start of the season, teams started throwing at the freshman. By the end of the season they were throwing at the senior returning guy who was all-state, because clearly they had seen how talented (Taylor) was. “
“ At 6-1 with great hips, that’s kind of the benchmark, as far as I can tell, for a BCS corner. The hips are key, but with the size of wide receivers these days in big time college football, to have a kid who has both that kind of height, as well as that flexibility through his midsection, and can run, and is smart… he’s been at St. Christopher since first or second grade. Great student, great kid."
“… with that height, and pretty good kind of pop when he comes up to stop the run, but also to be able to have the mobility through his hips to be able to flip and turn and run with a guy man to man… that’s not a quality a whole lot of kids have.”