Clemson football and baseball received a huge boost when projected first round MLB Draft pick Will Taylor decided to turn down a lot of money to be a college athlete.
Baseball head coach Monte Lee sat down with The Clemson Insider on Friday and spoke highly of the incoming two-sport star.
First and foremost, Lee credited head football coach Dabo Swinney for making sure Taylor had an opportunity to succeed in both sports as a Tiger and working with the baseball program in the recruiting process.
“We have a football coach who wants to give young men an opportunity to maximize their career,” Lee said. “Dabo is great about it when it’s baseball season if he’s actively in the mix for baseball let him do baseball. He is great in that regard.”
Taylor excelled as a three-sport talent at Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, S.C. winning a state championship in wrestling and football and won South Carolina’s Gatorade baseball player of the year award. Some publications listed him as a projected top 10 pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.
But Taylor wanted to play football and baseball for the Tigers and turned down big money to join the college ranks. Ultimately the Texas Rangers selected him in the 19th round on the off chance he would change his mind, but Lee confirmed Taylor would be in orange and white this year.
Before he turns his focus to baseball next spring Taylor will devote his time to the football program where he is expected to help as a backup quarterback and slot receiver. Lee and his staff will have limited time with Taylor during fall ball because of the football season and the NCAA’s 20-hour practice rule but the facilities will be open for him to refine his skills.
“There are things that will have to be off limits in terms of Will in the fall and we don’t want to focus on Will in the fall he needs to focus on the task at hand which is helping the football team win a national championship,” Lee said. “He’s such a God-given talent athletically that I don’t think it will take a lot of reps to get him ready for baseball.”
Lee estimates that after the College Football Playoff Taylor should be able to participate in two weeks of individual skill instruction and 10 to 12 inter-squad scrimmages before the baseball season starts. This will give him over 30 at bats in the preseason.
But for a talent like Taylor, Lee is ready to throw him on the field and see what he can do.
Will Taylor is a guy that this is what you do with him, you put in the field and let him play. He is so athletic and so talented, will he need to knock the rust off? Of course, baseball is not a game or sport where you can roll out and just play it,” Lee said. “It may take Will a little bit of time just to get re-acclimated to baseball, but he’s done it his whole life.”
—Photo courtesy of Clemson Athletic Communications
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