Alphonse Taylor's word is his bond

MOBILE, Ala. -- ESPNU 150 Watch List OT Alphonse Taylor committed to Florida State in April, and because he's from Davidson High School in Mobile, Ala., he is definitely going to be with the Seminoles.

Davidson coach Fred Riley and his staff work tremendously hard to educate their kids both about recruiting and academics. They have an in-house recruiting coordinator and a special academic advisor just for their athletes. They protect them, guide them and put them on the path to selecting their school of choice.

"Our kids' world is so small and it's our job to take care of them and to protect them," Riley said. "We do everything we can to make the recruiting process easier on them. And we do everything we can to prevent a kid from committing to a school. But once you do it, it's done. A commitment means a commitment. There are no soft commitments here. There are no extra visits once you make your decision. If teams continue to send letters and stuff, it gets thrown away immediately. That upsets a lot of college coaches until they get one from here. Then they like it. It makes it nice and easy, and we have a zero tolerance policy."

Riley instituted the policy at Davison in 2004, after Davidson standout London Crawford committed to LSU but signed with Arkansas. It's a policy that Taylor will adhere to.

"It's simple: You commit and that's the end," Taylor said. "That has helped me a lot because I knew I had to have that decision in my heart. I knew where I wanted to go and I understood what it meant when I committed to Florida State."

The decision was difficult for Taylor, because he fell in love with everything about Florida State but it was hard for him to decide to leave his home state.

"I am so tired of high school," Taylor said. "I am ready to go. Six more months. I love coach [Rick] Trickett. He's sort of intimidating, but I hear he lives up to what is said about him. Jimbo Fisher is another reason I picked FSU. When I was down there, I went into his office. We just talked and laughed and joked around. I loved that about him. Florida State just has that homey feeling."

The 6-foot-6, 360-pounder has a chance to be something special in college and beyond.

"Boy is he big," Riley said. "He wears a size 18 shoe. He has very long arms and he's high-waisted. He has great feet. The bottom line is that Alphonse Taylor has everything you look for in a left tackle. Everything. The best part is that he's a great kid who loves the game. And he has a great influence on everyone around him, both on the team and in the school.

"We have had a bunch sign over the past 10 years. These are guys that have gone on to play in the SEC or ACC. But Alphonse is the best positional prospect we have ever had. The best ever. Barring injury, he's going to be in the NFL. He has a tremendously bright future."

Taylor knew that this was a big offseason, and it has paid off. He has worked hard, in the weight room and trying to improve his game. Taylor also made it a point to become a leader everywhere he went.

"I have run a lot and really worked hard on my cardio," Taylor said. "I feel like I am in the best shape of my life. Something else that's very important to me this offseason is improving my leadership. I am doing everything I can to improve team chemistry. We have a lot of unity. I don't try and bestow fear on everyone with my size. I just want everyone to respect the coaches and all the adults. We need to listen to them because they all have our best interest at heart."

Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com.