From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Football Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Senior CB, Ocean Lakes (Va.)
Greatness Present: Playing at cornerback, Levonta Taylor can’t shut down an entire field. It only feels that way.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior uses his speed and unnatural agility to backbone one of the nation’s top defenses. The Dolphins (5-0) are ranked No. 10 in the USA TODAY’s Super 25 following Monday’s storm-delayed, 49-6 win over Kempsville. Ocean Lakes has outscored opponents 260-26 in 2015.
Foes have learned not to throw anywhere near Taylor’s side—he didn’t intercept a pass through the first four games this year after returning three picks for touchdowns in 2014—but Ocean Lakes has allowed one touchdown or less in 14 of its last 20 games. The Dolphins have won 20 straight since losing to Colonial Forge in the 2013 Class 6A South Region final.
It’s hard to blame opponents for avoiding Taylor, who turned heads in the offseason with his performance at Nike’s The Opening regional in Washington, D.C.
Ranked as the No. 6 recruit in the Class of 2016 by ESPN, Taylor ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds and touched 42.2 inches in the vertical leap, both numbers that would have been second among all defensive backs at the 2015 NFL Combine.
A 2016 Under Armour All-America Game selection, Taylor also spends his spare time on the offensive side of the ball, having scored four TDs on his first 13 touches this season.
Greatness Past: Taylor helped the Dolphins to a 15-0 record and their first state title in 2014. He recorded 40 tackles, 12 of them for a loss. He also scored three touchdowns on special teams, three on defense and six via the pass.
Ocean Lakes is 32-1 over Taylor’s last three seasons, outscoring foes by an average of 38.8 points per game.
Greatness Future: Taylor has verbally committed to play for Florida State next fall. This season, he aims to help Ocean Lakes build a perfect record entering the postseason, with potential regular-season roadblocks remaining against Bayside (4-1) and Cox (5-0).
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Football Player of the Year races aren’t over, and the National POY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Check back for weekly updates on the top contenders making a case.