Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the recruit: Caleb Taylor

Name: Caleb Taylor
Position: LB
Hometown: Hampton
School: Phoebus
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 225

ESPN: 75; three stars; #37 ILB
Rivals: 5.5; three stars; VA #24
Scout: three stars, #24 MLB

Other offers: West Virginia, Maryland, Louisville

Despite some questionable fanhood choices growing up, Caleb Taylor was leaning Charlottesville's way almost from the moment he was offered. Taylor missed almost his entire junior year with a serious knee injury, so a potential recruiting showdown with VT never materialized: Tech, careful with their limited scholarships, wanted Taylor to go to camp before they offered, and Taylor was half in UVA's clutches at least since April. When his commitment came the timing was a little strange since it came a few days after a series of June events and visits, but it was one of the least surprising UVA commits ever.

Taylor gets very consistent evaluations from the scouting services. He looks like a middle linebacker all the way (I still have to get used to saying "middle" instead of "inside") - he's stocky and a little slow. Not much for pass coverage. But ESPN cites his "good first-step quickness and short-area closing burst" and it shows on their highlight film, and also in his outstanding broad jump. They also call him "undersized," which here basically means "short" - at 225-sometimes-230 pounds he's already big enough for the college game. Steve Greer is 225 and Aaron Taliaferro is 230. Taylor isn't undersized. If he pans out his reputation will be that of an outstanding run-stopper.

His high school career is easily followed and despite the knee injury, there's a lot of success to talk about: Phoebus is a powerhouse for whom an undefeated season would mean a Virginia state record win streak. They killed Churchland, which is not at all a bad team. They've allowed something like ten points all season, and Taylor pairs up with UNC commit Daquan Romero to lead the defense.

There's early playing time in Taylor's future the way things look right now. (That is to say, no Curtis Grant. That could change things.) Just one linebacker graduates this year (backup Sam backer Darnell Carter) so Taylor's redshirt year will be spent looking up at a stacked depth chart. But the current rotation of Taliaferro and Greer shows no signs whatsoever of ending any time soon, not until Taliaferro graduates which would happen after Taylor's first year. After that, barring some moves there isn't much at MLB, so in Taylor's redshirt freshman year, his appearance on the two-deep behind Greer would be no surprise at all. The starting job could be Taylor's as soon as his redshirt sophomore year. Not a bad situation.


Some other quick stuff to get to. Depth chart is updated for the VMI game. Not many changes: the two-deep sees only one, with the removal of Tim Smith for injury purposes. Dominique Wallace is also gone. Penny thoughts: Smith would be missed if all the stuff I said in preseason were turning out true, but the passing game has been OK so far. Kris Burd and Dontrelle Inman have been very productive. In the short-term, no worries, as the offense has marched along mostly without the explosiveness he ought to bring. Which is a good case for getting that medical redshirt if need be. In the longer term, this season, it might be something that defenses can adjust to and keep Burd and Inman off the stat sheet.

As for Wallace, personally I'm bummed because I thought he'd be one of the most fun tailbacks to watch as he developed. Depth-chart-wise it's no biggy. There haven't been enough carries to go around anyway.

UNC is slowly getting word on the eligibility status of its players from the NCAA, and probably has plans to appeal every single case when they come back. What that means for UVA is that starting safety Deunta Williams will definitely (barring injury or meteor strikes) be in uniform for the game against UNC, and CB Kendric Burney will not. Unless the appeal is upheld, which actually I can probably see happening.

Lastly, you'll want to head over to BC Interruption, which scored a coup with their interview of the ACC's Associate Comissioner for Communications and Football Operations, Michael Kelly. Teaser question:

BCI: As we approach 2015 -- the last year of the current ACC schedule -- will there be any consideration to realigning the ACC's two divisions? Have there been any conversations about other possible tweaks to the schedule, such as moving to a nine-game conference schedule or adopting a scheduling format different than the current 5+2+1 setup?

Kelly: There have been some blue sky conversations about all of these possible concepts, but nothing indicating any imminent interest of making changes at this time.
The rest is just as enlightening - I don't know about you but I'd be very interested in seeing a nine-game conference schedule and I'm a touch disappointed it's not really a topic of conversation. Other discussion topics include the ACC's ever-frustrating penchant for being the last conference to post its schedule, every year. Go read.

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