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June 1, 2012
As the days tick away before they report to Florida, Inside the Gators will be catching up with the Gators' incoming freshmen as they prepare for college life and Southeastern Conference football.
Kent Taylor finished his high school career as the No. 1 tight end in the country and the No. 54 overall player. Taylor will move to UF on June 26 and likely be rooming with fellow tight end signee Colin Thompson. But before then, he had some final questions to answer.
ITG: Your father, Rob Taylor, played in the National Football League for 11 years. How big of an influence was he on your football career growing up?
Taylor: "It was good just because obviously he knows a lot and he's seen a lot. He's seen people who were really talented and didn't quite turn out like they were supposed to and stuff like that. It's just the experience factor and being able to make me keep my head on straight. I would probably say he was one of the bigger influences in my life, him and my mother."
ITG: Florida strength coach Jeff Dillman is trying to implement his new workout plans at UF. How long have you had the workout plan and what is it like?
Taylor: "We signed February 1. I think I had it February 3, and I've been following it since then. It's a lot of Olympic lifting, like hang snatch and stuff like that. It's a lot of power lifts and power cleans and squats and bench. It's mostly workouts that make you big and strong, that's for sure."
ITG: Is there a specific player you're most looking forward to playing with at Florida?
Taylor: "Matt Elam, that guy plays with so much intensity. I remember when he hit that guy out of bounds last year, and I thought he was going to fight Greg Reid at the Florida-Florida State game. Ever since then I've liked him a lot."
ITG: Obviously there are a wide array of opponents you're going to be going up against in 2012. Is there one that you're most looking forward to going up against?
Taylor: "I don't know if I'm going to play my freshman year, so I don't really know specifically, but I'm really looking forward to when we play LSU if I get to play against Eric Reid or Tyrann Mathieu, going up against them. Really, everyone is going to be good, but I guess those guys are probably the biggest names because they play for LSU. We're going to play against a lot of good players, but those two are the ones that come to mind."
ITG: Have you been paying any attention to the back-and-forth between Will Muschamp and Les Miles about Florida-LSU being an annual game?
Taylor: "I actually haven't, but I would love to play LSU every year. No. 1, I liked LSU and they were in my top three. They're always going to be good, so it would always be great to play them every single year. I haven't really kept up with it. I'm also excited to play against Florida State."
ITG: I know you wanted No. 1 but weren't able to get it. What number are you going to be wearing at Florida, and is there any significance behind that number?
Taylor: "I'm getting No. 18. Honestly, I just asked for the lowest number possible, and that's what I got. I wore (No. 1) in high school, and another thing about it is, you don't really see many tight ends with No. 1 unless they're really good. Jason Witten wore it. That's the only one I can think of. There's a lot of great tight ends who don't wear No. 1, but I just liked it. Ever since I started wearing it in high school, I just ended up really liking it. I might end up not ever wearing No. 1 at Florida, so it's not a big deal."
ITG: Size had been a big talking point with you coming out of high school. Where are you at with that right now?
Taylor: "I'm around 6-5, 230 (pounds). I think I'll gain 5-10 pounds once I get there, just being with coach Dillman and lifting with everybody else. When I lift now, it's great and I'd recommend it to anybody, but there's nothing like lifting with your team at the University of Florida. You've got guys around you pushing you day in and day out. Going into my high school season, I was 205 pounds."
ITG: What are your expectations for your first year at Florida?
Taylor: "To be honest, I just want to contribute any way I can. I want to play, but as good as I was in high school or as high as I was ranked in high school, everyone at Florida was ranked that high. To go in there because I was the No. 1 tight end in the country or because I was a big recruit, that doesn't mean anything anymore. I'm just going in there to contribute anyway possible and do my best."
ITG: You've had some time now to reflect back on the recruiting process. What were your favorite and least favorite parts?
Taylor: "The part about the recruiting process I didn't like is I felt like a lot of the time people tried to get me to commit, a lot of coaches. I didn't really like that because I wanted to make my decision on my time. The things I did really like is I met a lot of great people, a lot of great kids on visits. Overall, recruiting is an enjoyable experience but toward the end it got a little stressful."
ITG: Is there anything about you that people would be surprised to know?
Taylor: "I love to play slow-pitch softball. I don't know if that's a fun fact, but I love to play slow-pitch softball. I don't know (if I'll play intramural softball at Florida). I don't even know if we're going to be allowed. Maybe, I don't know."
Stay tuned to Inside the Gators throughout the month of June as we update all 19 signees before they report for Summer B session.