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Shakial Taylor plans to sign with Kansas

Shakial Taylor took a long path from high school to college before he will start his career as a Jayhawk

Taylor will sign with the Jayhawks on Wednesday
Taylor will sign with the Jayhawks on Wednesday

When Shakial Taylor was a senior at Chaparral High in Arizona he signed with South Dakota State. That fall he would play as a true freshman against the Jayhawks helping them to an opening-season win in Lawrence.

So when Taylor showed up on the Jayhawks radar as a recruit this fall they had instant access to his film.

“They said they went back and watched every snap I played for three hours,” Taylor said of the 2015 game.

Taylor, who goes by Shak, left South Dakota State for Mesa Community College in hopes of getting noticed by division one schools. It didn’t take long.

Kansas linebackers coach Todd Bradford went to watch Taylor practice. After that cornerback’s coach Kenny Perry made the trip to Arizona to pick up more on the recruiting. They convinced Taylor to take a visit to Kansas last weekend.

“The facilities were great but it was really the people,” Taylor said. “It felt like they cared about you and they are genuine guys. I felt like it was a place I could live after playing football. Being around the team it felt like home in that environment.”

During the visit Taylor was hosted by senior cornerback Marnez Ogletree who also went the junior college route before signing with Kansas.

After returning home Taylor used a couple days to think his recruiting process over.

“I talked it all over with my family,” he said. “I also took a lot of time to research everything. I prayed over it and I woke up and listened to what God said.”

He picked up the phone and called head coach David Beaty to deliver good news.

“I called coach Beaty to let him know,” Taylor said. “When I told him I was committing he started screaming and everybody was wondering why he was yelling. Then he told them I have committed.”

The Kansas coaches told Taylor they liked his film from Mesa and South Dakota State.

“They said I played with football savvy and I played with a purpose using good technique,” Taylor said. “They said they liked the swag I brought in my ability to make plays.”

Several others schools noticed as well. Taylor had strong interest from Kansas, Arizona State, Memphis, UNLV, New Mexico, and Middle Tennessee State. In the end he felt Kansas was the best place for him. He will sign with the Jayhawks on Wednesday.

“I’m just enjoying the moment because I’ve never had these kind of options,” he said. “I’m enjoying the process and it is a good feel.”

Taylor was named to the All-WSFL and All-ACCAC first teams at cornerback.

Taylor learned his work ethic from his uncle who plays in the NFL

Taylor moved in with with uncle during high school
Taylor moved in with with uncle during high school

Taylor made a move across country during his high school career from Florida to Chaparral High in Arizona. He moved in with his uncle Robert Nelson Jr. His uncle became his legal guardian and they moved in together after Taylor’s sophomore year of high school.

Nelson was a standout at Arizona State where earned All-Pac 12 honors at defensive back.

Nelson took his nephew from a rough neighborhood in Lakeland, Fla., where his brother was in jail and he didn’t have a father-figure to look up to. Taylor had quit playing football at one point. It was difficult at times getting through those days living in a one-bedroom apartment with his uncle, but he learned a lot.

“That’s where I got my work ethic from,” Taylor said of his uncle. “He has work ethic like no other. He never gave up and overcame all the obstacles.”

Now Taylor hopes to follow in his uncle’s footsteps. Nelson, who plays with the Houston Texans, started his career at Louisiana-Monroe before transferring to Arizona State. Although he was an all-conference pick he went undrafted. Much like his uncle, Taylor feels his talents have gone unnoticed until now.

“Our stories are similar,” Taylor said. “I left South Dakota State and went to a junior college. He started at Louisiana Monroe and then transferred to Arizona State. Our stories are alike.”