STAUNTON – Casey Taylor loves football. And the Robert E. Lee high school lineman can’t wait for this fall to come.
“It’s always been a dream to play college football,” he said. “And that’s where I think I can have success.”
Taylor is getting serious looks from several schools, including the Virginia Military Institute. Although national signing day is Wednesday, he has decided he won’t make a final decision until later this spring.
One thing is for certain. Wherever he plays, someone is going to get quite a quality individual. He is not only good in athletics, but also excels in the classroom as well.
For his accomplishments, Lee has selected him as its winter nominee for the City/County Student-Athlete of the Year Award, sponsored by The News Leader.
Although football is his major sport, Taylor also excels in basketball and baseball. By the time he graduates, he will have accumulated nine varsity letters, three in each sport.
The Lee senior has been in football ever since playing for the Staunton midgets in the Augusta County Quarterback Club program. He has been on the Lee varsity since his sophomore year where he has played everything from tight end to defensive tackle and offensive guard.
The Lee senior, who is 6-feet-2 and 260 pounds, played tight end and defensive tackle as a junior under David Tibbs, who is now the school’s athletic director
This past season, under new coach Scott Girolmo, Tayor changed positions.
“He asked me to play defensive end and offensive guard,” Taylor said. “He asked me to play offense because we were struggling at blocking. This was my first year to play on the offensive line. I like defense better, but to help the team, I chose also to be an offensive lineman. I just like to knock people over.”
Playing both ways certainly didn’t hurt. He was a repeat selection for all-district and all-conference on both sides of the ball, and garnered similar all-regional honors. For two years, he has been all-city/county at both positions.
In basketball, Taylor started playing at the Staunton Y around the age of nine. He was on the Lee jayvees as a freshman and moved to the varsity as a sophomore.
At 6-feet-2, Taylor has mainly played as a center. “I like rebounding and taking charges,” he said. “I feel it changes the momentum of the game. Last year in the Conference 36 championship, the East Rock coach said I took two charges in the last minute and that was what won the game.”
In baseball, Taylor started as a T-ball player in Kiwanis Baseball and progressed through the program. He was on the Lee jayvees as an eighth grader and made the varsity as a freshman. After sitting out his junior year, he plans to play baseball again this spring. First base is his main position.
“Baseball has always been a part of me,” he said. “It runs through the Taylor family. It was imparted in me as a child. Dad always taught me everything.”
And college baseball may be a possibility too.
While excelling athletically, Taylor also does well academically. He holds down a 3.9 grade point average and is ranked 30th in a senior class of 206.
“Math is my favorite subject,” he said. “I’m just good with numbers. But I also like history.”
When it comes to sports and academics, there’s no question which is most important.
“I definitely put academics first,” he said. “If not, my mom would get on me. When I focus on school and sports, I don’t let anything get in my way.”
The Lee senior is involved in numerous extracurricular activities.
He is a member of the National Honor Society. And in football, during the team’s fundraiser, he personally raised over $1,000.
Last year, he also mentored a pair of students in the third grade at Bessie Weller Elementary School.
“Their teacher was looking for a student more focused on grades than athletics, and Coach Tibbs asked me if I would be willing do do it. I was mainly helping them with their math. I tried to focus them on academics so they wouldn’t think high school was just for athletes.
“It went well,” he added. “I hope I can go back this semester.”
Outside school, Taylor referees Y basketball. And he also umpires Kiwanis baseball, something he has learned from his dad who has umpired for many decades.
Shortly, his career at Lee will end and college is in the future.
“I have an offer from VMI for football, and I’m considering that,” he said. “They are talking defensive tackle, and they also have really good degrees in engineering.”
Other schools who have shown interest are the University of Virginia – Wise and the University of Charleston.
“It’s always been my dream to play,” he added. “I know how hard you work determines when you play. Wherever I go, there will be guys ahead of me. I will make a decision before May.”
Lee basketball coach Jarrett Hatcher has nothing but praise for Taylor.
“I’ve known him since a little kid in the Y program,” he said. “And he has always been one of my favorites. I like having him in the classroom (honors government) more than coaching him, and I love coaching him.”
Each public school from Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro selects fall, winter and spring nominees, then selects one finalist. One finalist will also be chosen from nominees made by area private schools.
Up next: Garret Shultz, Riverheads