Kansas football top 25 difference-makers: No. 13, CB Shakial Taylor
Kansas had a couple of advantages over other schools recruiting junior-college cornerback Shakial Taylor.
For one thing, one of his happiest football memories came in Lawrence. He played for South Dakota State, an FCS school that defeated KU, 41-38, in the 2015 season-opener at Memorial Stadium, David Beaty’s debut as a college head coach, Taylor’s as a college football player.
“I really was thinking we were going to lose, but once the game got going, I felt like we had that edge and we could win,” Taylor said. “It was just an amazing experience, being at a D-I Double-A playing against a power-five school, crazy experience.”
KU coaches had easy access to video from that game and took advantage of it.
“During the recruiting process they actually went back and watched all the plays I played against them, so that was great,” Taylor said. “They said I had a good game. I was a young guy so I had a couple of errors as well. I actually had a big play in that game. They tried to throw a fade ball to the tight end and it was incomplete. That was a big play on my end as a true freshman.”
Going over those plays gave KU’s coaches a feel for Taylor’s knowledge of the position he plays.
KU also had the advantage of available playing time, since both starting cornerbacks had exhausted their eligibility.
Linebackers coach Todd Bradford was the first to watch Taylor at a junior-college practice and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry quickly became involved in recruiting him.
Taylor transferred to Kansas at semester break but an injury sidelined him from most of spring practice.
Dangerously inexperienced at corner, Kansas will need a healthy season from Taylor and fellow juco transfer Hasan Defense.
This will be the third school in three years for Taylor, who spent last season at Mesa Community College. Changing addresses won’t intimidate him. He made it work at a much younger age.
Taylor said he didn’t like the direction his life was heading at the age of 16 — for one thing, he had stopped playing football — so he took up his uncle, Robert Nelson, on his invitation to come live with him in Tempe, Ariz.
It was a generous offer by Nelson, given all that he already had on his plate as a junior on the Arizona State football team. A cornerback for the Houston Texans, Nelson is entering his fourth NFL season.
“I was 16, 17 and he was 21, 22,” Taylor said. “He had to take care of two grown men, so it was definitely a struggle, but at the end of the day it definitely paid off.”
Taylor said he went to Arizona State’s home games and accompanied his uncle when he went to ASU’s practice facilities to work on drills on off days. He said he also met all of Arizona State’s coaches and attended pro day to watch his uncle perform for NFL scouts.
“He showed me a lot of things at a young age so now that I’m at this platform I know what to expect and what to do,” Taylor said. “He told me how to use my eyes and what to study in the film room. He said studying receivers on film is how you make a lot of money. Film, film, film. I’m studying how our receivers run their routes. Say they line up with right foot like this, they run that route, they run with their left foot like that, they’ll run that certain route. Stuff like that.”
Taylor stayed with and trained with his uncle in Arizona during the break between the end of school and beginning of summer conditioning.
“This past summer, we had a break and I was going to work out here, but he told me to come to Dallas because he'd be out there training with other NFL guys,” Taylor said. “I got some work in with him.”
For the next two years, Taylor will call Lawrence home and is determined to send visitors home in a lousier mood than and he and teammates were in for their bus ride back to Brookings, S.D.