Playing big-time high school football at 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds would be a challenge for anyone. Ultimately, for former Indianapolis Ben Davis quarterback Reese Taylor, it was a non-issue.
Taylor led the Giants to the Indiana 6A state title in 2017. He also picked up the Indiana Mr. Football award, which is given to the individual voted as the state’s best high school football player.
That sort of success at the high school level could present its own challenges, with understandable expectations, hopes and dreams of big things at the next level. But Reese Taylor knows better. Being a relatively smaller guy in a big man’s game, Taylor realizes that he is going to have to earn everything in college.
More than just his size, however, Taylor realizes that every young man that makes it to a Big Ten football program is an elite player.
“In high school I was Mr. Football, but basically in college everybody is Mr. Football so everybody is as athletic and as fast as me, so I have to just keep working as hard as I can.”
While everyone is talented at this level, not everyone put up high school numbers like Taylor. For his senior season he went 215-for-296 passing (73%) for 3,150 yards and 40 touchdowns. He added 136 carries for 802 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Starting since his sophomore year, for his high school career he went 568-for-828 passing for 7,631 yards and 79 touchdowns, adding 374 carries for 2,077 yards and 45 touchdowns.
It takes a special kind of young man to go from that kind of production with the football in his hands to becoming a defensive back before he ever stepped foot on the Bloomington campus.
Taylor, who committed to IU last August, has known since before that time that his path would likely take him to playing defensive back at the next level. At the same time, no one will be surprised to see him on the field in the return game, as a receiver or perhaps even some sets that put him in a position to throw the ball. Indiana head coach Tom Allen has suggested as much in prior public statements.
No one doubts that Taylor knows what to do with the ball in his hands. For now though, his focus is to just work his way onto the field in whatever capacity makes that possible.
“My goal is just to work as hard as I can in the weight room, build as much weight as I can, so I can get on the field as early as I can.”
Indiana fans know that size alone cannot keep supreme talent off the field. At 5-foot-10 himself, former Indiana star quarterback Antwaan Randle El won the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year award in 1998.
Similar to Taylor, Randle El ultimately had to change positions to realize his full potential. While he was the first NCAA Division One player to both pass and run for 40 touchdowns, Randle El pivoted into a 9 year career in the NFL as a wide receiver.
At this point no one doubts Taylor’s natural abilities, irrespective of his size or the position he ultimately plays. It sounds like he has the work ethic and passion to match those gifts. One way or another, it is difficult to imagine that he won’t make an early impact on this team.
Taylor is making the position change much sooner than Randle El, and it should help him see the field as early as his freshman year. As a special talent and a well known in-state favorite son, many IU fans will be watching for Taylor to take the field. Just make sure you look for him in all three phases of the game.
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