COVINGTON, Ga. — Once upon a time, Jaison Taylor had aspirations not unlike most high school football players.
Win championships at the prep level. Sign to a major NCAA Division I school. Snag a few national championships and some national acclaim for good measure, and then, who knows?
But one day after a good night’s sleep, the 6-foot,180-pound defensive back literally emerged from his slumber with another plan.
“One day I just woke up and said that I want to be different,” Taylor said. “I want to go fight for my country.”
Taylor said this fresh aspiration hit him earlier this year. Maybe it came because he counted up the costs of doing what he originally wanted to do — become an orthopedic surgeon.
“It was just a lot of school, and I just wasn’t sure if I Wanted to be in school that long,” he said.
Or, perhaps the inspiration came from a more personal place.
“My dad, Edgar Taylor. He served in the Navy,” Taylor said. “I’ve seen where it can be a great opportunity for me.”
Jaison Taylor, a three-star safety prospect, took to Twitter, as many athletes do nowadays, to share his choosing of Navy over 11 other schools that offered, including Middle Tennessee State, Temple, Army and Ball State — the other non-Navy schools in his top five.
But although Taylor is looking forward to a solid collegiate career on the field, he said it was the off-the-field stuff that secured his decision.
“It’s like what coach (Terrance) Banks was just telling me,” he said. “He said to make a 40 year decision, instead of a four year decision, and to consider going into a service academy, because that way I’d be set for life and become a better man. The recruiting process was really challenging because there were so many schools showing love and support and that they really wanted me. But it came down to me making the right decision at Navy because of what I want my life after football to be.”
When Taylor’s playing days are done, the Newton rising senior says he wants to become a fighter pilot or enter into some kind of engineering field in the Navy.
Then, again, he could always go back to his dreams of being an orthopedic surgeon.
“I have a lot of options,” he said. “And I have time to make a decision.”
He also seems to have his mind made up that another standout year like he had in 2016 won’t sway his decision if and when his play entices more of the college football blue bloods to come calling.
Last year Taylor totaled 86 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles from his safety spot, as he helped lead a stingy Newton defense that looks to get even stingier in 2017 with more experience. He also hold a 3.4 grade point average to boot, which could make him a very intriguing prospect for schools who may try to flip his commitment.
But Taylor is resolute, in that he sees possibilities at Navy that can’t be reached at other places.
“Oh, I’m pretty solid with Navy,” he said. “I don’t really see another place where I can get the same opportunities I would like to get at Navy. Plus, they’ve been a top 25 ranked program for the past three years. They play great football and have a really strong brotherhood. I want to be a part of a brotherhood that builds bonds for life, while going out to win some football games as a bonus.”
The icing on the cake for his senior season at Newton, however, would be raising his profile as a team leader, and hoisting some hardware in December.
“As a player, I’ve gotten better with my ball skills and agility, but now I want to focus on being that leader on this team, even more than last year,” he said. “I was a leader last year, but this year I want to step my game up and be the voice of the defense and lead this team to a state championship. That’s all, really. I just want to give my all each and every play, and be the best for my team.”