As addressed briefly on RBR earlier today, Alphonse Taylor has committed to Alabama. He released a written statement to go along with the commitment, the text of which follows below:
After carefully considering the amazing opportunities in front of me, I am committing to play football for the University of Alabama and enroll in January. I appreciate the support of my family, friends, teachers, and coaches who have always helped and supported me. While there were many factors to my decision, ultimately I want to play Nose Guard for Alabama whose fierce and dedicated defenses are a tradition in this state and around the nation.
At the end of the day Alabama is the best place for me. That's where I felt will give me the best opportunity for success int he long run. I made my final decision about Alabama today. The Alabama coaching staff wants me to come in and play nose guard. The coaches are a great group of guys who are in position to help players develop. It's a great opportunity for me. I want to thank everyone for everything, but without God none of this is possible.
I maintain a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles.
Taylor has been one of many Alabama v. Florida State battles on the recruiting trails this season, originally committing to the Seminoles in late April. Taylor looked like an FSU lock even as recent as December 10th, but days thereafter he surprisingly de-committed and suddenly looked 'Bama bound. At that point he apparently ran into objections from his mother, who wanted him at Florida State, but obviously those objections were either addressed or outright overruled in recent days. (Insert obligatory REC reference here, and cue the almost as obligatory Jameis Winston predictions.)
Weighing in at 6'6 and approximately 350 pounds, Taylor was recruited as both an offensive tackle and a nose guard in the 3-4 defense. Most expected him to play tackle at Florida State, but as he made clear in his statement above, he will be playing nose guard in Tuscaloosa. 'Bama needed a true nose in this class, and with Taylor the Tide obtained what it needed.
In terms of potential, the proverbial sky is the ceiling in this instance. With his raw size and athleticism, Taylor could feasibly development into the type of physical specimen who is just a man among boys in the college game. The concerns, however, are two-fold: (1) He's a very raw player who will need plenty of technical refinement, and (2) the height could present difficulties with respect to a lack of leverage in the run game against shorter centers and guards. The latter is probably less of a concern than many would think, but admittedly Taylor is a raw player who will need to be molded accordingly.
In the short-term, Taylor will enroll early at Alabama and will be on campus in Tuscaloosa in just over two weeks, which allows him to go through the winter strength and conditioning program as well as spring practice. With the graduation of both Josh Chapman and Nick Gentry, Alabama faces something of a depth shortage at nose guard going into the 2012 season, and adding such a big body will help alleviate those concerns. He will be raw, but the size can be an asset, and hopefully he, Darren Lake, Jesse Williams and Brandon Ivory can hold down the position.
Taylor becomes the 24th commitment of the 2012 recruiting class.