- Jon Mahoney, ESPNHS.com
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With a name like Taco, it’s hard not to get noticed. But Taco Charlton is also drawing attention for his play on the football field.
Charlton, whose real first name is Vidauntaé and was given the nickname by his grandmother, is rated the nation’s No. 9 defensive end by ESPN and the No. 115 overall recruit in the ESPN 150.
The 6-foot-6, 240-pound junior from Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio) shined on the gridiron this past fall, helping the Tigers to a Division I state runner-up finish. And he showed off his athleticism as the starting center on the Pickerington Central basketball team that captured its first state title in March.
Charlton has impressed throughout the offseason, earning All-Camp honors at the Long Beach Nike Football Training Camp on April 1 and then shining this past Saturday at the Columbus NFTC, where he snagged an invite to The Opening.
Charlton also got the attention of his family, many of whom are Ohio State fans, by committing to Michigan in February.
So what’s this defensive dynamo have in store for the rest of this year? Get Familiar with Taco Charlton.
ESPNHS: Who gave you your nickname?
Charlton: It came from my grandmother. It’s different. Nobody forgets it.
ESPNHS: What led a kid who grew up near Ohio State to pick Michigan?
Charlton: I just love the coaches there. I believe they can get me to the next level. It’s a great family atmosphere on the team, the fans there are crazy about their team and my parents love the academics. I always had Michigan as my leader. That’s where I really wanted to play. My whole family is Ohio State fans. At first they didn’t like it, but they’re starting to come along. They have scarlet and grey around their houses. I’m going to try to get them to change that.
ESPHS: How much does the loss in the state finals sting?
Charlton: It’s making us work even harder this year. We’re trying to get back there and win it this time. I won a state title in basketball in March, and I believe we can do that in football this year. I have to be a coach on the field. I want my senior year to be successful.
ESPNHS: What did it feel like to win a state title in basketball?
Charlton: To win the first state title in school history was crazy. Our school deserved it. We had a huge pep rally. Our coach got the key to the city. It was great to see. I got to go up against (2012 Michigan signee) Chris Wormley in the finals. It was a good matchup. I’ll tease him about it at Michigan.
ESPNHS: Why do you continue to compete at camps with all you’ve proven and having already committed to Michigan?
Charlton: I just love to compete and have fun. This is one of the few chances I can get to go against the best linemen in the country. And there’s the whole teaching aspect.
School: Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio)
Position: Defensive end
TV Show: “The Game”
Movie: “He Got Game”
Musical Artist: Meek Mill
Athlete: LeBron James
School Subject: Math
Food: Chipotle burritos