Over the first two weeks of the football season, Clemson fans saw flashes of the moxie two-sport standout Will Taylor brings to the gridiron.
For Clemson head baseball coach Monte Lee, seeing Taylor in action for the Tigers has been exciting but also anxiety inducing as he watches his top recruit take some hits.
“On that first punt return where he got smoked out of bounds, I was like, ‘C’mon now.’ I had to get up and walk around the couch to see if he was OK,” Lee joked before the start of fall practice on Friday. “I wanted to try and reach out to somebody on the sidelines, but I figured they don’t have their cell phones on the sidelines.”
Taylor turned down a potential slot in the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft to enroll at Clemson as a two-sport athlete in football and baseball.
The freshman athlete showed off his speed this past Saturday with that 51-yard punt return against South Carolina State and did not shy away from contact in the game either. Taylor earned special teams player of the game honors against the Bulldogs and also ran the ball five times for 20 yards.
Taylor’s baseball teammates enjoy seeing one of their own run down the hill on Saturdays.
“I’m sitting there cheering on the Tigers, and then I see my teammate walk out on the field with them,” Caden Grice said. “And he goes out there and is tearing it up. It’s awesome and I love it.”
Redshirt sophomore Mack Anglin also relishes the opportunity to see his teammate on the football field. And Anglin is excited to see Taylor get more work on the diamond this spring.
“It’s been fun watching him over on the football field. He’s a freak athlete, and we are really excited to get him and see what he can do,” Anglin said.
Taylor said he wants to try and pop over to Doug Kingsmore Stadium and participate in fall practice when his football and school schedules allow. But Lee wants to give Taylor space to grow as a football player and student as well as an opportunity to refine his baseball skills.
As for Taylor’s success on the football field so far, Lee is not surprised at all and is excited to see the freshman’s impact in the outfield this spring.
“He is going to show you what he can do. He’s not a big talker,” Lee said. “He’s going to show you what he can do on the football field and baseball field. His early success with the football program does not surprise me one bit. This may develop some arguments among the Clemson fans, but he is an even better baseball prospect.”
Football season has finally arrived. Time to represent your Tigers and show your stripes!