The Oklahoma State Cowboys landed a future three-technique defensive tackle on Wednesday when San Antonio (Texas) Madison defensive tackle Vincent Taylor signed his letter of intent.
A consensus four-star prospect rated among the top-30 defensive tackles in the country by the 247Sports composite rankings, Taylor is also considered a top-40 player in the state of Texas. The 6'3, 280-pounder held offers from Baylor, Houston, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas Tech, and Vanderbilt.
Taylor burst onto the scene as a sophomore in a nationally-televised game between Madison and rival Cibolo (Texas) Steele, a game that was meant to showcase the running backs on each team but ended up being a coming-out party for Taylor:
Vincent Taylor, SA Madison (2013) -- The revelation of the game was easily the young defensive tackle for the winning team, who made his presence felt on seemingly every play -- he was around the ball more often than any of the linebackers on either team. At 6-3 and 240 pounds, Taylor still has plenty of room to grow into his frame, but looked the part of a future top prospect. Often lining up as the nose tackle, ESPN analyst Herm Edwards credited Taylor's disruptive play with forcing the Steele center to fumble several exchanges in an attempt to cut his head up quickly enough to stop the onrushing Taylor.
Taylor did look his best when matched up one-on-one, where he used good hand placement to separate from blocks to pursue plays laterally down the line of scrimmage and downfield. He experienced less success when facing double teams, as he simply doesn't have the leg strength at this time to take on two offensive linemen. However, Taylor did manage to hold his ground on most of those occasions.
If Taylor can continue to develop his strength and improve his technique, which is solid for a player of his age, he could establish himself as one of the top Texas targets in 2013 at a difficult position to fill. One thing is not in question -- his national debut was extremely impressive and with that performance, Taylor surely put himself squarely on the radar of numerous national programs.
Unfortunately for Taylor's national stock, he was slow adding the weight necessary to play defensive tackle and didn't catch up until late in his junior year. More than that, Taylor failed to progress as a player, just as he was slow to progress physically:
In the trenches, 2013 Oklahoma State commit Vincent Taylor was a disappointment in the same game that vaulted him onto the national stage two years ago as a sophomore. He's finally up in the 280-pound range, but he's not noticeably stronger -- he was absolutely planted by 2014 Steele guard and recent Converse Judson transfer Deonte Neil (who had the best exchange of the evening -- after getting into a shoving match with Taylor, Steele head coach Mike Jinks grabbed his facemask and let him know that he couldn't do that, to which Neal immediately responded with a big hug for his new coach), a kid who could be an intriguing interior prospect for someone in the FBS at some point. In general, Taylor struggled against double teams. In general, he wasn't much of a factor.
When he did flash it was tracking down a ball outside and showing off his speed, but he seems weak physically, doesn't get off the ball that well, and doesn't use his hands to any great effect. He's still a take for teams like Oklahoma State because defensive tackles are so hard to find, but suffice it to say that his development, or lack thereof, has been a pretty big disappointment.
Taylor still has four-star upside, but the questions about his development, motor, and overall strength make his bust potential significantly high.
Recruitment timeline: Taylor committed a few days after receiving his Oklahoma State offer in late May of 2012 and does not appear to have taken any other visits after that.
Vincent Taylor 2013 DL San Antonio Madison (via TexasPreps)
Look through SB Nation's many excellent college football blogs to find your team's community.