When The Colony senior linebacker Kyle Taylor narrowed down his list of colleges, a family-like atmosphere was the most important factor.
Big-time Division I programs such as Baylor, LSU and Texas showed interested in Taylor, but in the end, Tarleton State, located in Stephenville, felt like home.
Taylor made his decision official Wednesday afternoon. Joined by his parents, Anthony and Rose, teammates and coaches, he signed a National Letter of Intent to play college football for the Texans during a signing ceremony that was held in The Colony’s fieldhouse.
“They’re more about family,” Taylor said. “A lot of college programs, they only care about winning. Over there, they care about developing you and making you better.”
It’s not just player development at Tarleton State that won over Taylor.
The Texans are on an upward trajectory. Tarleton State has finished the last two seasons with a record of 23-2 with two straight appearances in the NCAA Div. II playoffs. COVID-19 delayed the start of the 2020 season for the Texans until Feb. 13, when they are scheduled to host McNeese State.
Starting this year, Tarleton State will compete as an NCAA Div. I program. Reclassification from Div. II to Div. I was completed July 1, 2020, when Tarleton State became the ninth full-time member of the Western Athletic Conference.
“As much as they’ve accomplished in five years, they’re going to keep going up, no matter what,” Taylor said.
Taylor will be the second generation in a row in his family to play Division I football as Anthony suited up for Texas A&M from 1985-87.
On a poster board that showed past pictures of Kyle in a football setting, there was a photo of him taking a picture with former Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2012 after putting up a then-SEC record 4,600 yards of offense his freshman season.
Taylor’s playing days in college will be spent at a different position than Manziel.
Taylor helped to spearhead a Cougar defense that held opponents to 23.8 points per game and allowed 14 or fewer points in three of the eight games that they played this past season. His ability to penetrate into the backfield was a big reason behind that success. Taylor led The Colony in tackles with 76, including 11 for loss, on his way to being named a unanimous District 5-5A Div. I first-team selection at linebacker.
“It meant a lot for me to be recognized on that team,” Taylor said.
In addition to his duties on defense, Taylor was used in short-yardage situations at running back. He had just 16 carries on the season, but four went for touchdowns.
Taylor transferred back to The Colony after spending his junior season playing for TAPPS Div. I state runner-up John Paul II. Cougars head coach Rudy Rangel first learned about Taylor’s desire to transfer back to The Colony in June 2020.
“I was super excited,” Rangel said. “Obviously, the football stuff is the easy part. It’s the other stuff that he does, as far as leadership, bringing kids together. It was a blessing.”