Sept. 28 is always circled on Kelvin Taylor’s calender every year, but this birthday is extra special.
Taylor turns 19 today, and at 8 p.m. ET, he will play in one of the most anticipated high school football games in Florida history. His Glades Day Gators, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, travel to Class 4A Yulee to take on the Hornets and star running back Derrick Henry.
Taylor and Henry are the state’s top two rushers of all-time and have combined for 19,837 yards in their high school careers. The game will be televised by ESPNU and Yulee’s stadium is expected to reach capacity crowd of 4,500, including Florida coach Will Muschamp and Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Considering all the hype, how much does this matchup mean to Taylor?
“It’s just another game,” he said.
That mentality was manifested by his father, former Gator and future NFL Hall of Famer Fred Taylor.
“You don’t never change your approach,” the younger Taylor said. “That’s one thing my dad always told me, ‘I don’t care if you’re playing in the Super Bowl, just do your job. Do the same thing Kelvin Taylor does every game.’ ”
In doing so, Taylor became the state’s all-time leading rusher last year and has totaled 10,582 yards since his eighth grade season on varsity. However, the National Federation of High Schools only recognizes stat totals from grades 9-12 and doesn’t count Taylor’s 1,584 yards in 2008 toward his national numbers — currently at 8,998.
So while Henry’s 9,255 career yards trail Taylor in the state record books, he’s actually ahead of the UF commit nationally. Both have a chance to break the national mark of 11,232 yards, set by Ken Hall from 1950-53 in Sugarland, Texas. Henry is 1,977 yards shy of Hall and Taylor is 2,234.
Henry, a former Georgia commit, set two new state records last week — most rushing yards in a game (502) and consecutive 100-yard games (38). He will tie the national record of 39 if he hits the century mark against Glades Day. He announces his decision between Alabama and Tennessee five hours before the game.
“He’s a hell of a running back,” Taylor said of Henry. “Big and fast. My teammates are going to try and contain him. It’s a good test for us. We’re just looking forward to playing him. It’s going to be a great experience.”
Taylor is excited to play in front of Muschamp and plans to put on a show for him.
“That means a lot to me,” Taylor said. “It lets me know how much he cares. We have a great relationship and it’s a blessing to have my future coach on the sideline. Not too many get that opportunity. So I want to have a big game for him and come out with the win for my team. I’m not worried about anything else.”