USA TODAY High School Sports is launching a series called “60 for ’16” to highlight 60 members of the Class of 2016 who we will be watching in the coming 12 months. The athletes were selected by the USA TODAY HSS staff.
Name: Levonta Taylor
School: Ocean Lakes; Virginia Beach, Va.
What we’ve seen: When USA TODAY High School Sports caught up with Levonta Taylor at The Opening regional event in the Washington, D.C., area, we asked him to describe his game in two sentences. “Very fast and physical,” he said. Apparently, those three words were enough.
Taylor, who plays cornerback for Virginia 6A state champion Ocean Lakes, is running as the No. 1 cornerback in the nation by the 247Sports Composite, the No. 1 player in the state and the No. 5 player overall. All with good reason.
His physical skills are immense. At The Opening regional, Taylor ran the the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds and had a 42.2-inch vertical leap. Taylor’s results would have placed him fourth in both events if he participated in the 2015 NFL Combine.
Of all the players nationally who competed in The Opening regional events, Taylor had the best Nike Football Sparq Rating and will compete for the title in Oregon next week. The rating is a reflection of a combination of metrics, including the 40-yard dash, the shuttle, the powerball throw and vertical jump.
If there was any doubt about his agility, watch this:
Taylor committed to Florida State in April and has made several visits to campus, including for Jimbo Fisher’s camp. He became the second five-star cornerback to commit to FSU in as many classes, joining Tarvarus McFadden from Plantation, Fla.
Why we’re watching: The show likely begins at The Opening finals, when seven Florida State Class of 2016 commitments are on the same team, Team Mach Speed — QB Malik Henry, tight end Isaac Nauta, cornerbacks Taylor and Kyle Meyers, and safety Jamel Cook. Offensive lineman Baveon Johnson and defensive end Janarius Robinson are also on the team, but will compete in linemen competitions.
A number of top FSU targets will be in Beaverton and don’t be surprised if they hear from Taylor and his future teammates.
Taylor made the all-tournament team at The Opening finals last year.
After The Opening, Taylor has the next challenge of helping Ocean Lakes repeat after a 15-0 season and No. 10 rankings in the final Super 25. The team will begin the season without coach Chris Scott after he was issued a three-game suspension for recruiting violations.
Taylor, who said he has been dealing with the recruiting process since eighth grade, said he felt the spring was the right time to make his commitment so he can look forward.
“Now I can focus on football and school and my teammates and winning the championship,” he said. “There is a very relieved feeling to that as well.”
As for what he needs to do between now and his arrival in Tallahassee, Taylor says, “The biggest thing is just to stay strong. We have a very good workout program at my school. My speed and quickness are my best attributes to my game so I want to keep improving on those things and also be smart in the classroom.”