Miami did an outstanding job with their 2021 recruiting class, and perhaps the crowned jewel was 5-star defensive tackle Leonard Taylor out of Palmetto High School.
Whether it’s 247 Sports or another media outlet, Taylor is receiving tons of hype as he prepares for his first season with the Hurricanes. Recently, a list of the top-10 freshmen to know for the 2021 season was released, and Taylor found himself on it.
When you think about which true freshman will have an impact on the 2021 season for the Canes, Taylor has to come to mind pretty quickly. I don't think he’ll start early on in the season or maybe at all, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him getting plenty of snaps right from the beginning of the year.
Since he wasn’t an early-enrollee and didn’t participate in spring practice, this summer is going to be huge for Taylor’s progression, getting up to speed on Miami’s playbook, working out with coach Feely and making sure his body is ready for college football.
5-star DT Leonard Taylor with a big tackle for loss. 0-0 game here at Traz pic.twitter.com/4Q1r24Q0Jh— Gaby Urrutia (@GabyUrrutia247) November 15, 2020
The Hurricanes depth at defensive tackle is strong heading into 2021, led by senior Nesta Silvera, who had himself his best season as a Hurricane last year. Behind him you have Jon Ford, Jared Harrison-Hunte, Jordan Miller and Elijah Roberts, so depth isn’t a concern. Still, you’d have to think, given the raw talent of a guy like Taylor, he’s bound to make an impact this summer and fall camp, and work his way into the rotation.
Defensive tackles aren’t supposed to move like that. Diaz wants athletes on his DL, well he just added the best one in the country in Leonard Taylor. pic.twitter.com/U8z1wSk68u— Canes Legacy (@CanesLegacy) August 6, 2020
Giving some context, Bryan Bresee was part of Clemson’s 2020 recruiting class, coming to the Tigers as the #1 defensive tackle and overall player in the 2020 cycle. As a freshman last season, Bresee started 10 games, and finished the year with 23 tackles, 6.5 TFLs and 4 sacks. Could Taylor have a similar impact for the Canes his first season?
As a senior at Palmetto, Taylor registered 20 TFLs, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and an interception, while earning MaxPreps second-team All-American honors, as well as first-team All-Dade by the Miami Herald. In his final two seasons in high school, Taylor recorded 46 TFLs.
What Taylor brings to the table is a dynamic skill-set for a defensive tackle, the playmaking ability rarely seen for someone at that position, with an explosive first step that allows him to shed blocks and get into the backfield with ease.
Leonard Taylor— Andrew Ivins (@Andrew_Ivins) November 6, 2020
(I’m well aware that the Twitter Referee Association will take issue with this play. Do not care.) pic.twitter.com/9iBUUxBSqp
Again, I'm not saying I expect Taylor to start as a true freshman, but it’s totally fair to assume he’ll see 250-300 snaps in 2021. Get him seeing the field early and often, that way he’ll be that much more ready in 2022, once Silvera and Ford are gone.