• 72°

West Lincoln OL Taylor plays in elite freshman all-star contest

Jackson Taylor and his family weren’t seeking out an all-star game for the freshman offensive lineman to play in after the high school season ended.

However, an all-star game found them. The West Lincoln Bear recently took part in the Football University Freshman All-American Bowl in Naples, Florida.

During the summer, Taylor had been invited to attend the Southern Elite Top 150 Combine in Brookhaven after a strong showing at a camp at Ole Miss. After the Brookhaven combine, regional scout Marcus Dent told Taylor’s parents, Josh and Amanda, that he wanted to nominate Jackson for the FBU Freshman All-Star game. The event draws around 4,000 applicants each year, with the nomination process beginning in September.

In late August, Dent reached out to the Taylors and let them know they needed to upload game film of Jackson and complete an online form. After seeing the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Taylor on film, national scout Erik Richardson called the Taylors to let them know that Jackson had been selected for the game.

The game took place on Dec. 19 at Gulf Coast High School. Located south of Fort Myers on the gulf side of southern Florida, the trip to Naples took the Taylor family 14 hours of driving.

A cottage industry of all-star games, combines, seven-on-seven competitions and skills challenges have sprung up as shoe companies pump money into high school football scouting. Some events over-promise and under-deliver on what they will provide their participants.

That wasn’t the case with the FBU game, though. The teams were decked out in head-to-toe Adidas gear. Most of the coaches had experience in the NFL or at the highest levels of college football. The accommodations and facilities were top-of-the-line as well.

Story by Cliff Furr