Commentary

Fred Taylor: Kelvin is better

Fred Taylor says son, now a UF commit, is a better RB than he was at the same age

Updated: February 21, 2012, 10:49 AM ET
By Michael DiRocco | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Everyone wants to compare Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Day running back and new 2013 Florida commit Kelvin Taylor to his famous father.

They're the same size, have similar running styles, and were among the most highly-recruited players in the state.

But Fred Taylor says people measuring Kelvin against Fred's abilities coming out of high school are making a huge mistake. There's no comparison, he says.

Kelvin is much better.

He's stronger, has a better football IQ, has better vision and has a move that Fred Taylor didn't until his junior season at Florida. And he certainly has better stats -- Kelvin already has broken Emmitt Smith's state high school career rushing record (8,804 yards) with another season at Glades Day remaining.

"His football IQ, as far as the actual game itself, is better than mine," Fred said in a telephone interview with GatorNation. "He can run them over. He can make them miss.

"I started having a jump-cut when I was in college, not high school. He has a really good jump-cut. That's definitely a key to being a successful running back on any level. Not only that, but he has some power, and his instincts [are very good]. Those are the things that make me smile."

Fred made a lot of people smile during his career at Glades Central and the University of Florida. By the end of his senior season in high school, he was one of the nation's most sought-after running backs. He ran for 1,545 yards and 20 touchdowns, including a 301-yard, five-touchdown performance against Fort Pierce Central, and was a Parade All-American.

[+] EnlargeFred Taylor
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesFred Taylor was a prolific running back for the Florida Gators.
Fred finished his Florida career with 3,075 yards -- which is still fourth on the school's all-time list -- and went on to a 13-year NFL career in which he ran for 11,695 yards and 66 touchdowns. He's 15th on the NFL's career rushing list and is considered a definite Hall of Fame candidate.

Those are impressive credentials, but Kelvin is way ahead of his father at the same stage of his career. He has played varsity football since he was in eighth grade, and he already is the state's all-time leading rusher (9,698 yards) after a junior season in which he ran for 2,884 yards and 40 touchdowns.

Fred says the only area in which he had an advantage over his son is his 40 time. Kelvin is at 4.48 seconds -- still pretty fast, but just a step slower than the 4.28 Fred ran in high school, according to the Florida High School Athletic Association. Otherwise, Fred says, Kelvin is much further along as a running back than he was.

"His strength, his vision [is better]," Fred said. "He can run them over, he can make them miss. I'm still trying to get him to work on his stiff-arm and some other things, but he has good acceleration, good vision. It's not great yet, but that's something I didn't develop until my junior year in college or so."

Fred said Kelvin's understanding of the game is on par with his -- after he was in college for a couple years. But it's not because of the fact that Kelvin has been a varsity player since eighth grade or the fact that he gets about 35 carries per game. It's not film study, either.

"I attribute it to, I hate to say this, but PlayStation," Fred said. "When we came up, I had 10-yard fight. It wasn't nowhere near realistic. So that actually does help these kids nowadays."

Kelvin Taylor
Courtesy Glades Day SchoolKelvin Taylor already owns the Florida state career rushing record, and is 3,118 yards away from the national record.
That apparently has paid off with some video-game like moves, such as the jump-cut that took his dad much longer to develop. Some of that is obviously genetics, but it's also the result of a strong work ethic.

"I think I'm very very blessed, and God blessed me with some crazy talents," Kelvin said. "I'm taking advantage of it all and working much harder to get better. I just kill myself in the weight room and also in the classroom and go 200 percent in everything I do, and everything else will work out for itself."

Reidel Anthony, who was Fred's teammate at Glades Central and Florida, agreed that Kelvin is better than Fred was at the same stage in their careers. But he says there's a very good reason: Fred was a linebacker until his junior year in high school. Even when the two played Pop Warner football together, Fred played defense. Kelvin, meanwhile, has a three-year head start on his father as a high school running back.

"He finally got his chance his junior year, and that's when he broke out," said Anthony, now offensive coordinator at Glades Central. "With Kelvin having all the years being able to watch his dad, that made it pretty easy for him to take in what he needed to do and what they're asking you to do to become a top-notch back.

"The only thing Fred really had on him is the top-end speed. When it comes to vision and making the right cuts, Kelvin is exceptional. He catches the ball out of the backfield a little bit better. Fred didn't have the best hands in the world. Kelvin definitely has a little better ball skills."

Now Kelvin joins his father in orange and blue, as the five-star ESPNU 150 Watch List running back committed to Florida coach Will Muschamp early in the morning this past Saturday. His pledge set the tone for a big junior day that saw UF net six verbals.

Kelvin Taylor
Courtesy Kelvin TaylorKelvin Taylor committed to Florida during a junior day visit to UF's football facilities last Saturday.
Kelvin says he hopes to wear No. 21 at Florida -- sophomore safety Jabari Gorman has it now -- just like his dad did from 1994-97. That would ensure the comparisons to his father won't ever go away, but Kelvin said he is fine with that. He's been compared to his father ever since he took his first varsity snap at Glades Day, so what's a few more years?

"I really don't care, but my dad, he had his career, and now I have my own career," Kelvin said. "I just play my own game. I think I have my own game, and my dad has his own game."

But what about his father's assertion that Kelvin is better than he was coming out of high school?

"He jokes around that I have quite a ways to catch up with him, but for the most part he says I'm better than him," Kelvin said.

What does he think?

"Am I better than my dad?" he said. "I'll let you be the judge of that."

We'll know for sure in a few years.

Michael DiRocco covers University of Florida sports for GatorNation. He can be reached at espndirocco@gmail.com or on Twitter @ESPNDiRocco.

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