Taylor Groves.jpg

East Robertson junior Taylor Groves (3) stiff-arms White House Heritage’s Timmy Freel (13) during a game on Aug. 27, 2020.

Taylor Groves doesn’t want to rush his college decision.

That’s why the East Robertson four-star safety decommitted from Michigan on March 29, less than two months after he pledged to the Wolverines.

With the NCAA recruiting dead period set to expire on June 1, Groves will be free to visit schools and sort through his lengthy list of options. In-person recruiting has been banned since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

“There’s no reason to rush it,” Groves said of his decision. “You’re going to be there for three or four years. You want to make sure it’s the right fit for you and not just (based) off what somebody else is saying.”

His father, T.A. Groves, admitted that it’s been difficult to get a feel for campuses without seeing them and to build relationships with coaches without meeting them face to face.

“It’s a huge decision for these kids,” T.A. said. “Most people wouldn’t buy a car without driving it or seeing it.”

Taylor will likely have his pick of the litter. The 247Sports Composite lists him as the 9th-best player in Tennessee and the No. 251 overall prospect in the 2022 class.

Florida, LSU, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech are among the programs that have reached out since his decommitment. More than two dozen schools have offered the 6-foot-3, 190-pound athlete.

The Rebels have especially made an impression. Taylor spoke to the entire Ole Miss defensive coaching staff in a two-hour Zoom call last week, ending it with 20 minutes of one-on-one time with charismatic head coach Lane Kiffin.

The Groves family will travel to Oxford this weekend for the Ole Miss spring game, though they won’t be able to meet with the coaching staff in person until June.

“Ole Miss is a whole lot like Cross Plains,” T.A. said. “It’s a small town that just has a college there. That’s appealing to (Taylor).

“A lot of schools say you’re a priority, but with Ole Miss, it feels like they’re making him a huge priority.”

Once in-person recruiting is allowed again this summer, the Groves family is tentatively planning to see Florida, LSU, Notre Dame and Ole Miss.

Taylor, who was slowed by a knee injury and played just seven games in 2020, made a name for himself with a breakout season as a sophomore in 2019. He totaled 57 tackles and seven interceptions to go along with 49 receptions for 739 yards and five touchdowns.

One surprise that came along with Taylor’s commitment to Michigan in February was that his primary position had changed from wide receiver to defensive back. But that’s a decision that remains intact.

Taylor and his father said feedback from college coaches indicated that Taylor would have a better chance to realize his NFL dreams on the defensive side of the ball.

“I think the better option for me is playing defensive back,” Taylor said. “You see a lot of receivers that are 6-3, 190 pounds and fast, but you don’t see a lot of 6-3, 190-pound defensive backs with my speed and ball skills.”

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