Darrell Taylor's Athleticism More Than Makes Up For Inexperience

Frequently on the recruiting trail, buzz words pop up. They are thrown around carelessly in an effort to sum up a player as quickly as possible.

When the word is "athletic" and the young man is Hopewell High's Darrell Taylor, there's no room for hyperbole.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound hybrid defensive end in the Blue Devils' 3-3-5 scheme earned offers from Tech, UVa. and Maryland. Ohio State's coaches kicked his tires on the idea of playing tight end.

He runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and made major programs — including the Hokies — salivate.

All this after a bum ankle kept him out of four games last season, his first as a varsity player.

"He's got all the measurables you want and his best days are ahead of him," Hopewell Coach Ricky Irby said. "He didn't even play his sophomore year. He's worked his tail off."

Taylor opted to stick with basketball as a 10th grader. It wasn't a bad choice. The power forward started and his season was highlighted by a 21-point, 16-rebound performance.

In fact, basketball impressed a potential future coach.

Tech assistant Charley Wiles visited Hopewell in the winter and saw Taylor grab an alley oop of a set play. With his elbows above the rim, the 17-year-old threw it down with both hands.

"He's a freak," Irby said. "Coach Wiles said he doesn't see the combination of receiver and defensive end very often."

Irby used Taylor to rush the passer, jam in the flats and at wideout with his cousin and 2014 Tech signee Tabyus Taylor at quarterback.

The Blue Devils finished 6-5 on the year.

Darrell Taylor grew frustrated with his injury.

"I couldn't stand it," he said of the high ankle sprain. "I didn't like watching my teammates out there without me."

He's a team leader, a part of Irby's "Leadership council," that is made up of two standout citizens from each grade who provide good examples on and off the field.
The determination to succeed in football and in life fueled Taylor. He lost his 40-year-old mother to breast cancer last May.

Since then, he started to see the path to an education en route to business degree — he said he wants to own some barber shops.

"I look at life a lot different now," Taylor said. "I didn't take life that seriously before she passed. I tried to use football as a guide for me to stay on the right path."

He and his cousin remain extremely close, although Tabyus' commitment to Tech hasn't pushed the defensive end in Blacksburg's direction, and likely won't.

Irby, who graduated from Virginia Tech in 2000 and is in his fourth year as head coach, said he's left his star alone on matters of recruitment.

"He's hard to read and he's seen UVa., Maryland and Tech; he really loves all of them," Irby said. "I love Tech, and I think the relationships and family atmosphere are great — you know when you send a kid there, they're gonna take care of them."

Taylor was impressed by his visit to Blacksburg, but noted that he knew what to expect from his cousin's earlier visits.

He did, however, mention Bud Foster's personality as a major selling point.

"He's upbeat and amped up," Taylor said. "He's very excited. I just like Coach Foster."

Taylor wants to make a decision after next year's basketball season.

"I need to improve on my attitude a little," he said, candidly. "I'm really competitive and I get a little too mad sometimes.

"My favorite thing to do is rush the passer, tackle the quarterback and force fumbles, recover fumbles."

His coach knows there's more to learn, but is thrilled about Taylors future.

"He gets great edge pressure," Irby said. "He power cleans 255 and is 30 pounds from breaking the school record, so he's getting stronger too.

"If I were coaching against him, the first thing I'd do is give my tackle help. He can beat you with speed, power and he understands leverage. He's got a lot to learn, he's only played one year of varsity. The kid got offers off basically six games of film."

Irby speaks with pride as he laughs at some of the things Darrell Taylor has been able to do. Its a genuine laugh, one that tells you the athleticism is much more than an adjective.

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I hate having to fight off schools like OSU for in-state talent. This is one player that Shane needs to wrap up and get to commit.

He will play defense in college, tOSU was interested in him offensively.

There's so many good D-linemen in VA this year. We need to get a good few of them.

He will look great in O&M. I like his attitude and openess.


Let's just hope, that Bud can continue to make an everlasting impression on the young guy. He sounds like he really starting to get the big picture of life, at a young age.

Sounds like Bud is picking up steam in recruiting, too. I can't recall hearing much about him being a great recruiter over the years but recently I think there have been a few kids that pointed out how much they liked him. Da'Shawn Hand was one, I think.

He had to grow up fast

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