Former Florida Gators running back Fred Taylor will be placed into the “Pride of the Jaguars” when Jacksonville hosts the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Taylor will be the second player inducted to the Jaguars’ Hall of Fame, joining former teammate and left tackle Tony Boselli.
“It’s a big, big emotional thing,” Taylor said during a radio interview on ESPN 850AM in Gainesville. “It hasn’t completely sank in just yet, but it’s getting there. I’m sure Sunday, with the energy in the stadium, you know with seeing the former teammates, current players and just reflecting and seeing my name is going to be imprinted in that stadium forever.
“I mean, it’s huge. It’s such an honor.”
A key cog in the Gators’ 1996 National Championship and three Southeastern Conference Championships, Taylor rushed for 3,075 yards and 31 touchdowns at Florida. He then ran a scorching 4.29-second, 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and then-Jaguars coach Tim Coughlin traded up to select Taylor with the ninth overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft.
Taylor, who’s from Pahokee, Fla., is 15th all-time in NFL history with 11,695 yards rushing, including 11,271 during his 11-year career in Jacksonville. He also owns franchise records for career carries and touchdowns. He played his final two seasons with the New England Patriots.
Taylor hopes his NFL achievements result in an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He retired in 2010, so he’ll first be eligible as part of the 2015 class.
“My numbers speak for themselves,” said Taylor, who averaged 4.6 yards per carry for his career. “I pray that the voters — the writers, the media — that they get it right. If they are going to base it on integrity, character, the whole nine — I think I deserve the nod.
“Even more so, let me add this, the players that are in there, I’m pretty sure if they had their say, this is a player that did it right and he deserves the honor to be amongst us, I think I would get it.”
Despite being called “Fragile Fred” by Jacksonville media and fans for missing 23 games during a three-year stretch from 1999-2001, Taylor still has lots of love for Jaguars’ fans.
“It was always good there. Even when I was going through my injuries and the tough times, I think they did a great job of sticking by me,” Taylor said. “I would see them out in public and they would encourage me to get better and that they missed me and that motivated me.
“So naturally, those 11 years that I played there were the best 11 years of my life. It was the most important because they were the ones that turned me into a man. I’ve got to thank the City of Jacksonville for helping shape me and mold me.”
Taylor was inducted in the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a “Gator Great” in 2010 and into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame in 2008. He also was recognized as one of the “100 Greatest Players of the First 100 Years” of Florida high school football by the Florida High School Athletic Association. He for more than 1,700 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior at Belle Glades (Fla.) Glades Central High.
Taylor’s son, Kelvin Taylor, is a running back from Glades Day High who plans to follow in his father’s footsteps after verbally committing to sign with Florida.