RB Kelvin Taylor commits to Florida

Updated: February 18, 2012, 9:23 PM ET
By Derek Tyson | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Five-star running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glades, Fla./Glades Day) verbally committed to Florida on Saturday morning to set an early tone for the most successful junior day in Gators history.

Florida added verbal commitments from five-star defensive back Nick Washington, linebacker Quinton Powell and wide receiver Rodney Adams to bring its class of 2013 to a total of eight prospects. Seven are on the ESPNU 150 Watch List.

Taylor's father, Fred, was an All-American at Florida in the mid-90s.

Kelvin Taylor, who surpassed Emmitt Smith as the all-time leading rusher in the state of Florida this past season with 9,698 yards, said Florida is where he feels best.

"They just have a great program and great coaching staff. I feel so comfortable around their coaching staff," Taylor said. "It's closer to home and they have great tradition."

Originally, Taylor was planning to wait until national signing day to make his decision, but after careful consideration he decided to end the process early.

"I just wanted to go ahead and get it out of the way," Taylor said. "I felt more comfortable at Florida, and I wanted to focus more on my high school career, so I just wanted to get it done with. I also want to enroll in January, so that's another reason I decided to make the decision early."

The presence of Taylor's father led some to believe Florida had the inside track on Kelvin's recruitment from the beginning. Kelvin said that wasn't the case.

"It was really close between Alabama and Florida," he said. "The more I kept going up there to visit Bama and UF, I just felt more at home at UF with the coaching staff. They are great guys, and I felt like I was part of the family. It was the same at Bama. I really liked it there, but the UF coaching staff is a really great group of guys, and UF has a great academic program also."

Taylor said his dad never pushed him to go to Florida.

"My dad has been a great help," he said. "He just told me to pick the best school and pick the school that I love. He just told me to stay focused and keep working hard and everything else will come. But he and my mom and family have all been a great help through the process."

The elder Taylor said he wanted to help guide his son, but ultimately it was Kelvin's decision, and he would be the one spending the next few years at whichever college he chose.

"In all actuality, it wasn't forced on me and when I look at it, I go, man, I don't want to just make his decision for him, then he gets to a certain place and he's miserable for those four, five years and then we're having a problem," Fred Taylor said. "I want him to be able to make his decision and go through it and deal with it and learn from it.

"You have to really be able to make a decision and live with it and learn from it whether it's good or bad. That's my whole viewpoint on it at all -- stay back and let him decide."

In addition to Kelvin Taylor, the Gators have another running back commitment from four-star back Adam Lane (Winter Haven, Fla./Winter Haven). Taylor believes Florida probably won't take another back in this recruiting class.

"I think probably after me, they aren't going to get anymore running backs," Taylor said. "I think."

Taylor was one of several top prospects attending Florida's junior day. He said he will be busy trying to get other players to join him next year.

"I'm going to try and recruit all of them," Taylor said. "We are going to try and get this program back up to a powerhouse, back like how it was in '97 and '08 in those years and try to win us a national championship when it's all over with."

ESPN.com recruiting reporter Derek Tyson can be reached by email at DerekTysonESPN@gmail.com or you can follow him on Twitter at DerekTysonESPN.