Two Taylors for Tennessee?

Blaise Taylor

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The abrupt departure of Tennessee running backs coach Jay Graham for FSU could create a family reunion in Big Orange Country.

New Vol head man Butch Jones already offered a scholarship to versatile Blaise Taylor, a 5-foot-8, 170-pound speedster who starred last fall as a junior receiver/cornerback/return specialist for Auburn (Ala.) High School. Jones also may consider offering a job to Blaise's dad.

The Big Orange needs an ace recruiter/running backs coach to replace Graham. Trooper Taylor was the program's ace recruiter/running backs coach in 2004-05 before shifting to wide receivers coach in 2006-07. Moreover, Trooper is available to start work immediately. He has been unemployed since Auburn University fired Gene Chizik and his entire staff on Nov. 25.

Clearly, the opportunity exists for Tennessee to add Trooper as running backs coach and Blaise as a 2014 commitment. A potential snag: The son isn't sold on the idea of playing where his father is coaching.

"I probably would not go to the same school as my dad just because of always being in his shadow," Blaise Taylor told InsideTennessee during Tennessee's Feb. 16 Junior Day. "I kind of want to go my own route."

He qualified a bit, however, by adding: "If it was the perfect situation and the best place for me, obviously, that's what I would do. I think I'm going to do what's best for me."

Young Taylor thoroughly enjoyed his recent visit to the Knoxville campus.

"The new weight room is really nice," he said. "The team meeting room and all of the coaches offices are different now. The locker room down at the stadium is a lot different. It looks great and it's nice. Tennessee is going to be doing big things in the near future."

Blaise Taylor attended third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade in Knoxville while his father helped Phillip Fulmer sign top-10 recruiting classes and post records of 10-3 (2004), 5-6 (2005), 9-4 (2006) and 10-4 (2007). Both Taylors recall those as happy times.

Assistant coach Trooper Taylor celebrates a touchdown with wide receiver Robert Meachem while the two were together at Tennessee during the 2005 season.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
"I remember going to the SEC Championship Game in '04 with Arian Foster and Gerald Riggs," Blaise said. "I remember Kevin Burnett when we went to the SEC Championship and played LSU again. I remember pretty much all of the games. I remember when my dad recruited Eric Berry, Jerod Mayo, Foster, Kevin Burnett and all of those guys."

Asked if he could see himself returning to Tennessee as a player, Blaise Taylor nodded emphatically.

"Oh, yes. Definitely," he said. "I remember the Vol Walk very clearly and all of the great traditions they have here. I could definitely see myself playing at Tennessee someday."

A 4.0 student, Blaise says academics will figure prominently in his college choice. He lists Tennessee, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Stanford and Alabama as his top schools. He says he has offers from Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas State but that Georgia Tech, Stanford and FSU appear "pretty close" to offering.

The recruiting process can be stressful for a prospect. The fact Trooper Taylor knows the process inside/out is making it a little easier for his son.

"Yeah, it is a little bit," Blaise said. "With him being a coach, you know what's real and what's not real. Obviously, a lot of things are going to change once you enroll and start taking classes and going to practice. It's not going to be all happy, happy all the time. That helps. And it gives you a clearer aspect seeing other players throughout the years — 25 each year coming in — and watching how they handle the recruiting process. That's definitely going to impact how I handle mine."

Trooper, who spoke with InsideTennessee while attending Junior Day with his son, says he has given Blaise one critical piece of advice regarding his college choice.

After noting that all programs feature good coaches, good facilities and good support systems, the father added: "What's really important to me is the relationship that he builds with that staff and how they are going to be able to develop him — not only as a football player but as a person."

When asked his impression of the new Vol staff, Trooper Taylor replied: "I think they're doing a great job. It (Junior Day) was really organized. There wasn't a lot of standing around. They did a good job of attacking the fundamentals, the academic side of it, the social side of it and then getting to football. They broke up into individual meetings and had highlights of the greats that played here."

The elder Taylor thinks the new Vol staff is smart to emphasize family values and Tennessee football's glorious past.

"Any family is built on traditions," Trooper said. "Even your own family is built on traditions of when you celebrate Christmas or whatever it might be. I think they're doing the right thing by going back and starting with the people that built this place. That was really good to see ... that they are giving attention to that detail because that's what kids grew up on.

"Whenever a school has six NFL Pro Bowl players — to be able to sell that to a kid and help them reach their goals — I thought that was good."

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