By LARRY VAUGHT
One of the unsung players for the revamped Kentucky defense this year is junior tackle Calvin Taylor of Georgia.
The 6-9 Taylor played in 11 games in 2017 and he made a splash in the Music City Bowl against Northwestern when he had three tackles and a quarterback sack. For the season he had 22 tackles, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hurry.
This season he has six solo tackles, three assists, one tackle for loss, one sack and one pass breakup.
“He’s gotten better every year. It’s really nice to see because players get down on themselves, they get disappointed and they all want to play. There’s a guy that’s taken years to develop himself and when he goes into a game, how are you going to play? It’s just a matter of playing, it’s going into a game and playing well,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.
“He’s really worked hard and is maximizing his ability by the way he’s approaching the game and the way he’s working. It’s taken years to develop him and he’s producing. So I’m very happy for him and I appreciate our coaches’ efforts on developing him.”
Stoops admits he’s never coached a defensive lineman so tall who has played as effectively as Taylor is.
“Flexibiliy, he can bend. If he wasn’t athletic enough, he wouldn’t do it. So there’s a lot of times you see a guy like that and think he could end up at left tackle, but he’s athletic enough on the d-line,” Stoops said.
Stoops said improved line play from Taylor and others has made it much easier on UK’s defense
“It all goes hand and hand. There’s times when guys (receivers) have been open and the d-line affects them. Certainly when it’s two-minute situation, predictable pass, things like that. When they have all day and they’re comfortable back there, they can pick you apart. So it all goes hand and hand,” Stoops said.
Taylor was a two-star recruit. He was better known for basketball — he was a four-year letterman, all-state pick and part of a state champion team as a junior — but he also was a three-year starter for Augusta Christian High School, had 46 tackles as a senior and helped his team win a state title his sophomore season.
He was a late addition to Kentucky’s 2015 recruiting class and redshirted his first year. Stoops said getting a player like Taylor like in the recruiting period is important for programs looking to move up.
“Just finishing it (the recruiting class) and getting the right fits and things, maybe some fliers and stuff like that (really helps),” Stoops said.