Khalil Taylor tried to play it cool after being told he had received his first college football scholarship offer a few weeks back.
“I didn’t know how to feel,” said Taylor, who lives in the Hill District. “I didn’t want to brag about it. I just wanted to be chill about it.”
Taylor was trying to treat it like he’d been there before. But the fact is, he had not been. Not only that, but few, if any, players from Western Pennsylvania have ever been in his shoes.
Taylor is just 14 years old and is in eighth grade, but he already owns an FBS scholarship offer, this after UNLV extended one April 15. Some local girls basketball standouts have received offers while in middle school in recent years, but football is a different story. Taylor, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound wide receiver-defensive back, very well could be the first local player to receive a football offer while still in middle school.
Well-known local speed trainer DeWayne Brown called Taylor “special.” Brown has trained many Western Pa. players who have gone on to play in college and quite a few that have played in the NFL, but none of them had offers this early. Not Miles Sanders. Not Damar Hamlin. Not even Aaron Donald.
Taylor, who said he has run the 100-meter dash in 11.1 seconds, lives with his mom in the Hill District and attends LIFE Male STEAM Academy in Penn Hills. His dad resides in Penn Hills. Next season, Taylor said he will attend Neighborhood Academy, located in Stanton Heights. Neighborhood Academy does not have a football team, but it does have a cooperative agreement with Shady Side Academy, which is where Taylor will play.
News of the offer was passed on to Taylor while he was in Las Vegas for a 7-on-7 tournament. Taylor plays for Evolve. While there, Taylor and his teammates toured UNLV, and some of them flew back to Pittsburgh with offers in hand. There’s a Western Pennsylvania connection at UNLV. Brennan Marion is the team’s first-year offensive coordinator. He’s a Greensburg Salem graduate who two seasons ago was the wide receivers coach at Pitt.
While Taylor was trying to keep his offer on the down low, there were two people he said he was quick to share the news with.
“The first person I called was my dad. He was super excited. And then I talked to my mom and she congratulated me,” Taylor recalled.
Taylor said his favorite college team is Ohio State and his favorite player is Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.
Final five for Sullivan
One of the WPIAL’s top junior football players has narrowed his list of college suitors to five. Central Catholic’s Cole Sullivan, a 6-3, 200-pound linebacker-tight end, has a final five of Duke, Michigan, Notre Dame, Stanford and Wisconsin. Ranked by Rivals as the No. 17 player in the state, Sullivan’s list of offers also includes Pitt, Penn State and Oklahoma. Sullivan is an excellent athlete who helped Central Catholic win the WPIAL Class 6A basketball championship last season. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds against New Castle in the championship win.
Wetzel pulling in offers
Peters Township sophomore girls basketball standout Natalie Wetzel has seen her recruitment catch fire the past few weeks via her play on the AAU circuit. A 6-3 sophomore forward who plays for the Western Pa. Bruins, Wetzel picked up recent offers from Ball State, Belmont, Boston College, Dayton, Harvard, Monmouth, Murray State, Penn and St. Joseph’s. Her previous offers included Pitt and Arizona State. Wetzel averaged 18.6 points and eight rebounds a game last season when she was named first-team all-state in Class 6A.
First for Wade
The WPIAL girls basketball scoring champion landed her first scholarship offer. Clairton sophomore Iyanna Wade was offered by Mount St. Mary’s. Wade, a 5-4 guard and Class 2A first-team all-state pick, averaged a district-leading 33.2 points per game this past season after averaging 23 her freshman season. Wade, who also averaged seven rebounds and five assists a game, scored 50 points in a win against Steel Valley in January.
A pair of college basketball players with Western Pa. roots are headed to new schools. Central Valley’s Isiah Warfield transferred to Howard after spending the past two seasons at Liberty. A 6-5 guard, Warfield played in 32 games at Liberty last season, averaging 13.4 minutes and 1.7 points per game. Also on the move is Naim Miller, who spent his first season of high school at Allderdice before transferring to First Love Christian. Miller, a 6-4 guard, is now moving from Division II Edinboro to Division I New Hampshire. Miller averaged 16.4 points a game in his only season at Edinboro after spending two seasons at Mount St. Mary’s. Warfield has two seasons of eligibility remaining and Miller one.
Chartiers Valley’s Tyler Zallenick (California); Franklin Regional’s Luke Williams (Virginia).
Greensburg Salem’s Cody Rubrecht (Seton Hill).
Track and field commitment
Seneca Valley’s Jonathon Price (IUP).
Mapletown’s Brody Evans (Edinboro).