Alontae Taylor threw out the first pitch at the Lady Raiders’ first game of the District Tournament. After the festivities, Taylor took the time to give some insight on being a second-round draft pick in the NFL and joining the New Orleans Saints.
Taylor was first asked what it was like to come from a small town and to make it to the heights that he has in his football career. “I’m super excited. I feel like I am ready. I feel like Tennessee prepared me the right way to go in, but I also feel as if the SEC is the best conference in college football. You go up against those guys that they talk about in the NFL, the Alabama receivers, and guys like that. I was blessed enough to go up against those guys so I’ve seen them before,” Taylor stated.
The athlete then spoke about how he is confident in his abilities and doesn’t feel as though he is lacking in any area. Taylor is confident in his size, strength and depth in learning the playbook, and feels as if he is ready to take his skills to the next level.
Taylor then spoke on his journey from college football to making a splash as a second-round draft pick saying, “The scouting process really starts as a freshman. Your character, things like that, and how you treat people in the rooms, and how you react to coaching. I feel like I have been scouted my whole life. You then declare for the NFL draft and when you declare, there is a place to go and train.” Taylor trained at EXOS in Phoenix, Arizona, an elite level training facility in which he feels is superior to the rest. Taylor stated that his training in Phoenix got his body in shape for Pro Day and the Combine. “I was out there for eight weeks,” stated Taylor. “After that I went to the Combine and performed the way I wanted to. I ran a really great forty, and after that I went back to Knoxville.”
Taylor said that in preparation for Pro Day he did a bit of training on his own. “I worked on bench, but not speed because I wasn’t going to run any on Pro Day.”
The football player then stated that after his Pro Day, each NFL team gets to choose 30 players each for visitations to their facilities and to meet the teams. Taylor was selected for visits with the Bengals, Texans and the Raiders.
“You get to go on Zoom calls and meet other coaches. They take you through playbooks to see how you learn, but at the end of it all it’s just a waiting game. You never know what will happen on draft night,” stated Taylor.
According to Taylor, he had no clue he was going to be selected by New Orleans. “I was sitting and waiting on my name to be called, and it got called sooner than I thought it was going to be, but it’s a blessing and I am excited for it.”
Taylor has made it to the spot that many athletes dream about, however, was asked if New Orleans was what he wanted, and if he could’ve chosen which team selected him which team it would have been. “I can’t really say. I have a really close connection with my old DB coach at Tennessee who is now the DB coach for the Chargers, so that would’ve been a great place to land to play under him again. Going to New Orleans is still exciting though. I already have five current players there that I played with while at the University of Tennessee. Guys that have impacted other players and made a lot of plays and are big names there. So I feel like it was the best spot for. I like the way they play defensively and I’ve built a great relationship with Corey Robinson who is going to be my DB coach there, so I feel confident. I leave May 12 to get started.”
Taylor was finally asked about the medallion that he wears on his necklace that has a lovely photo of his younger self with his grandmother. “This is my grandma. She passed away in 2009, and ever since then I’ve kind of felt like the heart of my family. I was born to carry that weight of my family. She pushed me every single day. My grandma never gave up when things were hard for her, so when I’m in the weight room, or changing positions like I did when I got to college, things like that, I just remind myself that I do what I do for more than myself. I do it for my family. I carry her every day, and when I get in the league and get a little money, I’ll be able to get a bigger chain and a bigger picture of us on it.”