Pittsburgh, PA — Throughout high school, Kellon Taylor was concerned that he was going to have to choose between two of his greatest loves, football or basketball. Then Duquesne made a telephone call.
Taylor wanted to be able to enjoy both sports and Duquesne’s call came with that opportunity as both football coach Jerry Schmitt and then men’s basketball coach Jim Ferry each were aware of this and offered opportunities to play for their respective teams.
For an individual who embraced competition from the age of four, the decision to compete in both sports ended up being a no-brainer, of course after he did his homework on Duquesne.
“Honestly I didn’t really know what I was going to do in high school, but in my senior year, Duquesne had offered me and I thought it was a unique opportunity being able to do two sports, so I kind of took advantage of it,” Taylor said.
It was at that age of four that Taylor first touched a football and his passion for the sport only grew from there. Soon after, he would run around the house with dirty clothes, makeshift shoulder pads and a fake helmet. Basketball did not come into the picture until around the time Taylor was enrolled in high school, when the desire to compete proved to be overwhelming.
Where Duquesne fits in
Taylor did have one thing to admit when discussing his time at Duquesne, at first he was unaware of the school.
“Duquesne when they came up, I didn’t know who they were at first, I looked them up and then (former Dukes wide receiver) Chris King came and talked to me about the school and he is an alumni of DeMatha, so just talking to him and really looking at the history of the school, it was a great opportunity,” Taylor said.
Currently, Taylor is in season with the Duquesne football team where as a sophomore, his play has impressed Schmitt.
“I think Kellon has always had the talent it’s just he’s working really hard in practice, he’s competing against some good D-backs and he’s a talented young man,” said Schmitt. “We’re excited about his future, I think he’s just hit the tip of the iceberg for his potential.”
Though Schmitt believes this progress is just the beginning, it is clear that Taylor has made his presence known this season.
Two of the past three games, Taylor caught a touchdown with the one two weeks ago at Robert Morris coming in double coverage.
“It feels great whenever you touch the end zone,” he said. “It puts a smile on your face and it’s great when your teammates meet you in the end zone. It gives you confidence on the field and I feel like at all times nobody can check me and then getting in the end zone fuels that fire.”
Taylor’s game is more than just touchdowns, but rather helping the team whether it is as more of a vocal leader or just finding ways to fight for a first down.
“Whenever we can get a big first down on a third-and-long, it feels great,” said Taylor. “That was a play in which coach trusted in me and that’s something I always want to pull through on.”
In regards to being more vocal, it has been a process where he learned during his freshman year and now as a sophomore feels more equipped to use his voice to help the team.
“I want to be that voice, not necessarily leader on the team that everyone hears, respects and can bring things out of the team,” Taylor said. “Obviously this year has been successful, so I am not going to stop.”
From a basketball standpoint, Taylor obviously is missing practice since he is currently in football season but he still has made his presence felt starting with summer workouts.
Duquesne men’s basketball coach Keith Dambrot certainly has expectations for Taylor but at Atlantic 10 Media Day stated that anything he contributed would be “gravy”.
For Taylor this certainly provides comfort and takes some pressure off, but that does not mean he will come in with training wheels on.
“He expects me to come in and probably just fit in at some point,” said Taylor. “He told me he expects me to be an all-conference player at some point. He wants me to try my best out there and be versatile and basically play my game, which I like.”
Taylor has still kept in touch with the team, took part in team pictures and is a firm believer in what Dambrot is preaching to his team.
Dambrot has preached a defensive first mindset, which is how Taylor defines himself as a player. It is Taylor’s belief that you do not win games unless you defend.
“I was with him throughout summer workouts, I worked out with them up until August and he is a player’s coach, which I enjoy,” Taylor said. “He’s a guy you can speak your mind to and he’s also going to be on your butt. He’s a talkative coach and I am talkative as well, so we kind of butt heads, but that’s something I enjoy.”
Taylor comes from DeMatha High School which has a decorated basketball program that is nationally recognized. During the recruiting process, both George Washington and St. Bonaventure, also Atlantic 10 schools expressed interest in Taylor. Neither had a football program.
The toughest thing about being a two-sport athlete is that there is no time off and each really requires its own physicality.
That is where Associate AD/Sports Performance John Henderson comes into play and not just for Taylor but his football teammates as well in junior wide receiver Nehari Crawford, Junior defensive back Jonathont Istache, sophomore offensive lineman Gabe Spurlock and junior defensive back Brandon Stanback, the four of whom ran track last spring and scored at the Atlantic 10 Championship Meet.
“He’s always there for me,” said Taylor of Henderson. “I could text him at any point in time and work out with him. The mentality is always there, I am aggressive on the football field and basketball court, that’s just my mentality always.”
Taylor did mention that he probably will want to transition to tight end at some point so it comes as little surprise that Antonio Gates has always been has favorite football player.
Gates along with Tony Gonzalez are two successful examples of players who were two-sport athletes that chose football and have achieved great success.
As recently as this past offseason, VCU’s Mo Alie-Cox attempted to transition from college basketball to football but an injury led to his being waived by the Indianapolis Colts, so there are plenty of precedents there.
When Taylor’s stepson was in Little League, his coach was former NFL player Shawne Merriman and he set up a way for Taylor to meet Gates.
“He was a little bit shy but told me to keep my head up and that I had a bright future,” Taylor explained. “It was things like that. Any superstar gives you advice, you take notes, you listen because they got there for a reason.”
On the basketball court, Taylor has been a big Dwyane Wade fan since 2003.
“I always called him the best player in the league,” said Taylor. “I love the way he plays and he is kind of similar to me and how I play.”
Being a two-sport athlete the grind never stops, but it is this hard work that Taylor relishes.
“When I go to basketball season, it will be football offseason at that point, so either way I will be working out,” he said. “I have conditioned myself throughout high school for this opportunity.”
News Across The Bluff
Swimming and Diving season has begun at Duquesne as the Dukes opened their season 2-0 at the Richmond Duals. Freshman Emma Brinton was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week and is the first Dukes swimmer to receive this honor since Abigail Stauffer in 2015… Duquesne men’s soccer most recently fell 1-0 to George Washington over the weekend, extending its scoreless streak in the process to 469 minutes. Though the team is in second to last place at 3-11-1 overall and 1-5 in Atlantic 10 play, there still are two matches to play and Duquesne is three points away from the eighth and final spot in the Atlantic 10 Championship… The Duquesne bowling team placed ninth of 14 teams with a 5-8 record at the All State Sugar Bowl Invitational. This event featured six ranked teams. In Sunday championship competition, the team set a record with a 266 baker game… Duquesne volleyball swept La Salle this past Saturday in just over an hour of play and is now fourth in the Atlantic 10 Conference standings. There are still five matches to play before Atlantic 10 Championship play at the Palumbo Center on Nov. 17-19… Duquesne football’s Nathan Stone received an invite to the FCS National Bowl Game in Daytona Beach, FL.
Duquesne Calendar of Events
Duquesne Women’s Tennis @ Toledo Invite Day 1
Duquesne Volleyball @ George Washington 7 p.m.
Duquesne Men’s and Women’s cross country @ 2017 Atlantic 10 Championship 10 a.m.
Duquesne Swimming & Diving @ A-10 Quad Meet Day 1 11 a.m
Duquesne Rowing @ Head of the Schuylkill
Duquesne Women’s Tennis @ Toledo Invite Day 2
Duquesne Football @ Sacred Heart 12 p.m
Duquesne Women’s Soccer vs George Washington 1 p.m
Duquesne Men’s Soccer vs Dayton 7 p.m
Duquesne Volleyball @ George Mason 7 p.m.
Duquesne Swimming & Diving @ A-10 Quad Meet Day 2 9 a.m