The Irmo, South Carolina native makes it all look easy
Deciding to go to college or accept a big pay day from the Major Leagues is not an easy decision.
If you do not believe me, then ask Clemson’s Will Taylor. The Tigers’ do-everything-player turned down seven figures from Major League Baseball teams this past July for the college experience at Clemson.
On draft night, there were a lot of phone calls being made and coming in.
“There were a lot of decisions happening real quick. Within five, ten, fifteen minutes,” Taylor said. “But we kinda had an idea of what it was going to look like a little bit before, so we just kind of … had certain situations we kind of gone through the night before, but it all worked out.
“We just kind of weighed both experiences. That was the main thing, it was the experience. It was not the money or whatever. It was more the experience. A college experience was too hard to turn down.”
It is an experience Taylor will get on the football and the baseball fields at Clemson. He is already making noise on the football field as a quarterback/punt returner, and as soon as the football season is complete, he will go across the moat from the Allen Reeves Football Complex and join his baseball teammates at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
“I know a lot of guys over there. So far, I have been talking to them a little bit around campus, school and class. But whenever I can go over there and play in a scrimmage, I will do that. If not, it is no big deal,” Taylor said. “I am still hitting and doing stuff on my own, every now and then, so I am staying up on my work on that side.
“Whenever the season ends, I will go over there and be all baseball.”
Taylor hits in the batting cages a couple of times a week.
“I actually have a little more free time than I thought I would, so it is really convenient to go over there. The cage is open 24/7, so I can just go over there and hit anytime,” he said.
Taylor is not the first athlete at Clemson to be a full-time player in both sports. Defensive Tackle D.J. Reader did it for a season during his time in Tigertown. Then there was Kyle Parker.
Parker did it at the highest level in both sports. On the baseball diamond, he was an All-American and a first-round draft pick in 2010, while in football he led the Tigers, as the starting quarterback, to their first appearance in the ACC Championship Game in 2009.
Parker became the first player in NCAA history to throw 20 touchdowns and hit 20 home runs in the same academic year. He did that in 2009-’10 academic year.
Besides leading the football team to the 2009 ACC Championship Game, he also guided the baseball program to the College World Series in 2010.
“I have watched a lot of highlights about him, and I have talked to a lot of people that have coached him and played with him. I just heard he is a baller,” Taylor said. “He had to do a lot of work. I don’t know how he managed all of that, but I guess I will find out soon.
“But yeah, I heard he was a straight baller.”
So far, Taylor looks like he is a baller too.
At Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, South Carolina, he led the football team to a state championship, while doing the same on the baseball diamond. He was also a state champion wrestler.
“I just love to compete, no matter what it is,” Taylor said. “No matter what sport it is, I love to compete. I just like to win. No matter what sport it is, track, wrestling, football, baseball, I just love to go out there and compete.”
Taylor said he ran track and played football at the same time, but he admitted he could never make it to track practice because of football. However, he still competed in the meets.
“I did it because I love to run and compete against each other and have fun doing it,” he said.
Running track and playing baseball has definitely helped Taylor on the football field.
His 51-yard punt return against S.C. State last Saturday, looked like a centerfielder camping under a flyball. He tracked it down at his own 33 and then burst up the sideline to the Bulldogs’ 16-yard line.
Taylor said catching a punt is very similar to catching a flyball in baseball. He said head coach Dabo Swinney and a few other coaches helped him out the first couple of days when he started doing it.
“They did a great job of coaching me up, and I was able to catch on to it quickly,” he said. “Yeah, it is very similar. I have been doing it my whole life with baseball. I just kind of keep my feet moving through the ball and just camp under it.”
He makes it look easy. Just like he made his decision to come to Clemson, instead of playing pro baseball, look easy.