By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky didn’t have an overly hard time convincing defensive lineman Calvin Taylor to lave Georgia to play football for the Widcats.
He was a lightly-regarded two-star player who had always envisioned himself as a major college basketball player because of his 6-9 frame.
He needed time to develop at UK but the last two years has been more than solid for Kentucky. Going into Saturday’s game with Louisville — his final game at Kroger Field — he is tied for the Southeastern Conference lead with 7 1/2 sacks.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said it was Taylor’s “great length” that caught his eye when he recruited him.
“That is the biggest thing is you look at our football team and we do have some length. A year ago, we had great length and that was something that stood out to us as people come and watch us and other coaches come in and look at us, and pro scouts, look at the size of our team,” Stoops said.
“You definitely want some length and with Calvin you saw a big, athletic guy that we thought could definitely turn into an offensive tackle if we needed him to, but we actually needed him on defense and he just kept on getting better and improving and working hard each year.
“It is a great story for Calvin. Everybody talked about Josh (Allen) last year and the development piece, but Calvin is equally as impressive with where he came from. Nobody was recruiting him and we took a shot on him and he did his part. He worked extremely hard and our strength and conditioning coaches have done a really good job with him and he’s coachable. He is taking the medicine and getting better and better every day.”
Kentucky has reached the point in recruiting where it might not have to take chances on a player like Taylor — or even Josh Allen — like it did before. Stoops admitted the coaches are “more selective” about how a player fits into the system.
“The talent threshold is always there, you always need to get guys that you feel are talented enough to help you compete,” Stoops said. “Obviously, you want to get as good of a player as you can get, but I think it is helping us be more selective and find guys with the right intangibles that we are looking for.”