Taquan Mizzell has been a standout player in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia since his sophomore season at Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside, and now the No. 87 overall player in the Rivals100 is ready to make his mark nationally as part of the inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.
The invitation-only event is being held on June 22-24 at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta and features many of the best players in the Class of 2013 and 2014.
Mizzell said the choice to participate and prove his status among the best nationally was made without hesitation.
"I was in when I found out I made it," he said. "I love to compete and I know nothing worth having is going to come easy. I like to go out and earn it."
Mizzell has earned multiple on-field honors in his two years at Bayside. As a sophomore he was named Second-Team All-Eastern Region in Virginia after he piled up 1475 yards and 22 touchdowns while helping to lead his team to its first Eastern Region title in 18 years. He suffered through a tough junior year as injuries derailed his personal and team goals, limiting him to 992 yards and 21 scores, but was still selected First-Team All-Beach District.
He currently has 16 offers from coast-to-coast and has earned the nickname, 'Smoke'.
"My coach gave me that as a freshman," he said, "Coach told me that I am hard to tackle, hard to grab, like smoke in the wind."
But just like actual smoke, Mizzell has been easy to see at the many events he has competed in; the reviews have all been positive, and according to the four-star back it is because he wants to keep getting better and doesn't take these opportunities for granted.
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"I try to take away as much I can from each event," he said. "I try to get better and I try to push myself.
"I listen to all the coaching that I can get and apply it to my game."
Mizzell added that despite his lofty national rankings, he didn't know if he would be good enough to make the cut into the elite-level event.
"I was shocked when I found out I made it, honestly," he said. "Not many people from my area make it into these big-time events so I didn't know I was going to be good enough to make it until like a week ago."
Now that he has been accepted it is all eyes on June and Georgia.
"I go to a bunch of camps and see a lot of guys," Mizzell said. "They are usually closer than what this one will be but I like to compare how the guys from different areas play and this will be one with the best from all over."
And like he has done since he got onto the football field, Mizzell will look to work hard and show he belongs among the best.
Mizzell will be playing a different role than he's used to at the Challenge as he will line up as a slot receiver most of the time. However, there will be times he is in the backfield as well and his quick feet in space will be a challenge for any of the linebackers. Make no mistake about it though, Mizzell is a pure running back and a guy who not only has terrific ball skills and natural ability as a receiver, but in games he is a workhorse between the tackles with great body lean and surprising power and balance. He will be one of the more interesting prospects to watch because of his altered role in Atlanta. - Mike Farrell
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