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Running back Kelvin Taylor is latest Belle Glade star

10:48 PM, Oct. 16, 2012 EDT

Glades Day (Fla.) running back Kelvin Taylor broke Emmitt Smith's state rushing record as a junior. / AP

BELLE GLADE, Fla. -- Palm Beach County’s chief agricultural community sometimes is referred to as “Muck City,’’ so rich is the soil that it produces prodigious sweeping fields of sugar cane. Town elders are proud of their dirt: A “Her Soil Is Her Fortune’’ sign welcomes visitors.

The area also is well known for something else — excellence on the football field.

The latest premier prep recruit is Kelvin Taylor, a senior from Glades Day School. As a junior, he smashed Emmitt Smith’s state rushing record. His father is former NFL star Fred Taylor, who graduated from Glades Central and was an All-America running back at Florida, where his son says he will sign after spurning Alabama.

The Taylors are related to Santonio Holmes, the New York Jets wide receiver and Super Bowl MVP.

Holmes, too, is from Belle Glade, located on the southeastern shore of Lake Okeechobee, a low-income city of about 17,000. Other current NFL players from Belle Glade or nearby Pahokee, Fla., include Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin, St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins and Cleveland Browns receiver Travis Benjamin.

“Look around,” says Kelvin Taylor. “They want to get out of this place. Football is the only way. Around here, football is the only thing to keep you out of trouble.”

When defenses see Taylor, it is nothing but trouble. Last week, he ripped off a career-best seven touchdown runs and 171 yards rushing in a 56-42 swamping of Village Academy (Delray Beach, Fla.). But the teenager won’t have an opportunity this week to add to his career total of 11,217 yards. His team’s scheduled opponent, Archbishop Carroll (Fort Lauderdale), forfeited the game because of concerns it was overmatched.

Glades Day, a private school, is 6-1 and ranked No. 2 in Florida in Class 2A by the Associated Press. It has won by an average score of 40-16.

Nationally, Taylor’s four-year total of 9,673 rushing yards ranks sixth all time. He played varsity as an eighth-grader but, unlike the state of Florida, the National Federation of State High School Associations only counts freshman through senior seasons regarding statistical milestones. With two regular-season games remaining, Taylor is 1,599 yards behind the national record of 11,232 yards established by Ken Hall of Sugar Land, Texas, from 1950-53.

Taylor’s coaches estimate he has missed the equivalent of seven games because he rarely plays an entire contest.

“I don’t care about records,” says the senior. “I just go out and have fun.”

With an enrollment of only 320 (kindergarten through 12th grade), Glades Day has captured seven state football championships, including back-to-back titles in 2010-11.

Kelvin wanted to attend his father’s high school, Glades Central, but his mother, Tiffany Campbell-McGrew, sent her son to Glades Day. Fred and Tiffany, high school sweethearts, never married.

“I think the sky is the limit for him,” says his father, who lives in Weston, Fla.

“There aren’t any comparisons at the moment — other than the last name and his jump-cut (move),” Fred Taylor says. “Statistically, he has blown me out of the water. Does he enjoy being compared to me? No, he really doesn’t. He is trailblazing his path.”

At 5-11, 215 pounds, Kelvin Taylor might one day join the area’s NFL alumni list. He possesses exceptional vision, cutting ability, power and speed. He already wears a Gator on his helmet —  his school’s mascot.

Glades Day coach Pete Walker describes Taylor as “the best football player I have coached.”

“It is probably the last time I will get to coach a running back like this,” Walker says. “They come once in a lifetime.”

Perhaps in high school but not necessarily in college or the pros.

“A guy can be all-world in high school and get to college and it’s a different story,” said his father, who retired in 2010 after 13 NFL seasons, the first 11 with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I’ve seen a history of those guys come out of Belle Glade. The next level is not for everyone. I tell my son all the time, ‘You are destroying this (high school) level, but that doesn’t mean you will destroy the next level.’ ”

Taylor wears No. 21, the same jersey number his father wore in college and the NFL. But, as he emphasizes, “He’s my father, and I love him, but my dad had his thing. I have my own.”



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