Growing up the son of former NFL running back and Gator great Fred Taylor, Kelvin Taylor knows a thing or two about attention. And, as a gifted running back in the mold of his former Pro Bowl dad, Kelvin has been living life under the microscope since the first day he strapped on a helmet.
One of the most prolific ball carriers in high school history with more than 12,000 yards and 192 touchdowns in his career at Glades Day School, Taylor started as an eighth grader and spent his entire high school career as the big man on campus. When he enrolled at his father’s alma mater and suited up in pop’s old jersey, No. 21, it came with the high hopes and expectations of a Gator Nation that remembers Fred all too fondly. But after five years of being a big fish in a small pond, Taylor is adjusting to college life without making the kind of impact that most thought he would as a freshman.
Through five games Taylor has just six carries for 46 yards with five of those six carries in garbage time in the season opener against Toledo.
So what is keeping an obviously gifted and talented runner off the field early on in his career?
Ball security was an issue during the few open practices in the fall and spring when fans and media alike saw him struggle to hang on to the football. However, Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease says that Taylor has cleaned up that issue since the season began.
“No, can’t say that it is right now,” Pease said when asked if Taylor was still having ball security issues. “I can’t say that it is.”
After the Miami game, Florida head coach Will Muschamp said he wanted to get Taylor more involved in the game plan, adding that the staff would make an effort to get Taylor in the Tennnessee game and get him some touches. He carried the ball one time for three yards next week against the Vols then sat the entire game against Kentucky, Pease said that Taylor was slated to get into the game after the Gators extended their lead to 30-10 against Arkansas but that the Razorbacks ate up a lot of clock and that kept Taylor out of the until the last drive when Tyler Murphy was taking a knee to run out the clock.
Instead of getting into the game, Taylor watched as Matt Jones and Mack Brown shared the tailback carries.
“They went back and forth, Matt and Mack.” Pease said. “We had some situations where we were going to try and get him in there in the last half of the fourth quarter, but they held onto the ball and drove it and stuff. So we just, just continue to keep working in practice and things show up.”
As the Gators running game struggles to return to the form that carried them through the season in 2012, many fans want to know why Taylor isn’t getting opportunities to carry the ball and if Taylor could potentially earn a redshirt this season.
“We’ll discuss that.” Pease said of the possibility. “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the head coach.”
A redshirt is still possible. According to NCAA bylaw 14.02.6 a student-athlete uses up a year of their eligibility the moment they play a single second — or in this case a single snap — in intercollegiate competition. Because Taylor has played this season means he would need a “medical redshirt” or hardship waiver. In order for this waiver to be granted, a player would need to meet the following criteria.
- The injury or illness is season ending.
- The injury or illness occurs prior to the completion of the first half of the season.
- The injury or illness occurs when the student-athlete has not participated in more than 30% of the teams scheduled contests/dates of competition during the team’s traditional season.
In Taylor’s case, it’s the midpoint of the season and the coaching staff has not reported an injury to the freshman running back as of this week so while a redshirt is possible it doesn’t look probable. On Tuesday Pease said that Taylor has been working hard in practice and that he needs to continue to be patient.
“He practices hard, he’s a good kid, he’s got a good attitude, he is a good player and I just wanna see him continue to do the things and have some patience,” Pease said.