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Taylor-made for Oklahoma
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Future Sooner DB healthy and set to make impact in final prep season
The 2011 football season was less than memorable for Stanvon Taylor. The talented defensive back suffered a broken ankle in Tulsa East Central’s season opener against Stillwater and spent a major portion of the fall rehabbing.
Like a lot of top prep prospects, Taylor went into his junior season with big expectations, hoping to impress college coaches and help lead his team to success on the field.
When that opportunity was lost, Taylor focused on getting healthy, getting back into the lineup and not getting lost in the recruiting shuffle. Despite the serious nature of his injury, the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder accomplished all three goals.
“I just sat down and talked to my coach about everything after I got hurt," said Taylor. “He already knew I was out there on the (recruiting) radar from my sophomore year. I had pretty good stats. He just told me, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just rehab and come back better.’”
As it turned out, the recruiters didn't stray too far, and Taylor made it back to play in a couple of games before East Central was eliminated in the playoffs.
“The main thing was I was just trying to get back and play,” said Taylor. “The whole recovery process went really, really good. I was three weeks (ahead) in my recovery. It came (down) to a decision if they wanted to take the chance to play me or not and just wait until this year.
“It was a three-month recovery, and I was back in a month and a half. Everything went good.”
For many athletes who suffer a major injury, being able to trust that the body part has healed completely can be the most difficult part of the process. Taylor was no exception.
“The hardest part was the physical part,” said Taylor. “Probably cutting was the hardest thing I had to overcome. I wasn’t planting as hard as I usually did on the ankle. After a while, it just came back to me naturally.”
But it was after Taylor showed his skills off in other sports at East Central that his football recruiting really heated up.
“My coach told me to play basketball, which I was able to do,” said Taylor. “That helped a lot because football coaches were wondering if the ankle was OK. A lot of coaches came and saw me play basketball and then I went to track. I do long jump and jumped off the ankle I broke.
“I still did good and jumped 23 feet off that ankle, and a lot of coaches felt I was back. I’d say during track, my whole football recruiting picked up a lot. I really don’t feel it fell off at all. It was a pretty good deal for me.”
With Taylor's ankle healed and his confidence restored, the colleges started pouring in after him. He received offers from Arizona State, Arkansas, Houston, Indiana, Kansas State, Ole Miss and Tulsa University.
Taylor had been getting offers from schools since the end of his sophomore campaign, so he wasn’t shocked when those offers started to multiply.
“Going into my sophomore year, I started getting letters from TU and Utah State,” said Taylor. “At first, it was a few schools. It was exciting to me. I was just really happy. My coach was happy. He said, ‘Now the show is rolling — just keep doing what you’re doing. Get better and better, and one of them will come.’ From then on, it just made me pick up the work and work harder.”
In the meantime, Taylor was waiting on one school in particular.
“Ever since I went down (to Norman) for a football game my sophomore year and went on a little tour, I just liked everything about it,” said Taylor. “The feeling inside of me was, ‘This was where I wanted to go.’ I had always liked Oklahoma since I started playing football in fifth grade. They have always been a favorite for me. The whole program — once I got to learn more about it and college football, I was just the place for me.”
The Sooners offered Taylor a scholarship in late April, but he waited until May 4 before accepting it.
“A lot of people expected me to commit the day they offered,” said Taylor. “But I just kind of wanted to wait and make sure it was the right decision. I waited a couple of weeks and talked to my mom every day. I just finally gave in. I called up Coach (Jackie) Shipp and let him know he can count me in.”
Taylor said he will be the first member of his family to ever play division I athletics. And because his mother, Tiffany Taylor, and grandmother, Doretha Taylor, made sure academics haven’t taken a back seat to athletics, he looks forward to graduating from Oklahoma.
It didn’t hurt the Sooners’ chances that Taylor’s favorite player is former Sooner Adrian Peterson. He’s looking forward to the opportunity to meet him one day.
“He’s still one of my favorite players to this day,” said Taylor. “He plays a whole different position, but I just look up to him. It’s going to be a dream come true, meeting my favorite player. I’ve been watching him since he was at OU. It’s going to be fun.”
In Taylor, the Sooners will be getting a bona fide playmaker. Whether at wide receiver on offense or cornerback on defense, he has shown an ability to be a game changer.
Prior to breaking his ankle in the first game last season, Taylor returned an interception 70 yards.
“A high school defensive back and wide receiver, Taylor projects as a cornerback in college,” said a recruiting analyst. "Taylor uses the ball skills developed on the offensive side of the ball to break on the football while playing defensive back and finish plays with interceptions. With solid size for the position, Taylor only needs to refine his technique and add some muscle mass to a lean frame that can at times be beaten off the ball by stronger receivers.
“Overall, he deserves the playmaker label, and it's not a stretch to call him a gamer as well."
The Sooners will be losing senior defensive backs Demontre Hurst and Javon Harris to graduation at the end of the 2012 season. Plus, there is always the chance one or two other OU defensive backs could turn pro.
Taylor would still have to battle through a number of underclassmen who have been waiting their turn earn playing time. But he just wants to help the Sooners any way he can.
"I’m a quiet guy out here making plays,” said Taylor. "Whenever my coach calls on me, I never want to let him down. I do what I do and try to make the best of every play every time I get the ball and even when I don’t have it. Whether it's blocking or creating for somebody else — I try to do everything I can to help my team out. I'm just a big-time playmaker. I like to make plays.
“I’m just a kid who is working hard trying to make my dreams a reality.”
(Editor's Note: This story is featured in the August Football Preview issue of Sooner Spectator. To subscribe, go to wee.soonerspectator.com)