Michael Taylor had some big shoes to fill when he chose to wear the No. 51 at Florida. The previous occupant was two-time All-American Brandon Spikes. But recently, Taylor with his neck roll and all, has come on strong for the Gators, leading the linebacking corps. The redshirt senior has played in every game the past three years except the 2013 Florida State game which he missed due to injury. He’s started 12 of those 36 games, including 10 starts last season. Taylor’s racked up 130 tackles, including 9.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and three fumble recoveries during that span. Last season, he led the Gators in tackles with 80, was a captain for four games, and won the Rex Farrior Most Team Spirited Award for defense.
At 6-0, 227 pounds, Taylor is a little bit undersized to be playing linebacker at the collegiate level. But he’s definitely made it work. Taylor was a four-star recruit, ranked as the 12th-best outside linebacker, 14th-best Georgian, and the 186th overall player in the 2010 recruiting class, according to 247Sports composite rankings. Taylor originally committed to Lane Kiffin at Tennessee, but decided to flip his commitment to D.J. Durkin in what would be Urban Meyer’s last recruiting class.
Taylor had a ton of success in high school. As a junior for the Lions, he notched an incredible 160 tackles with 20 TFL, five sacks, eight caused fumbles, and three fumble recoveries en route to earning all-league honors. Taylor followed that up with a 122 tackle, 22 tackles-for-loss, two sack, four forced fumble senior season. His senior campaign vaulted him to the 2010 Under Armour All-American game, where he took home the MVP for the White Team. Just take a look at some of his high school highlights.
Now Michael Taylor looks to be the leader of a strong defensive unit. He’ll be coming off a sprained MCL injury that will hopefully be fully recovered. He did participate in spring practice, so the prognosis looks good. Taylor will look to regain the form he had before the injury in the Georgia Southern game as he hopes to accomplish what that previous No. 51 did before him: Win an SEC and national championship.