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LAND O'LAKES, Fla. - The latest prospect to join the U.S. Army All-American Bowl for the East was the nation's top tight end, Land O'Lakes (Fla.) prospect Kent Taylor. Taylor, who was awarded his U.S. Army jersey on Thursday afternoon during a ceremony at his school, still remembers when he first got word of the invite many months ago.
"I was excited," Taylor said. "I immediately called my dad and my brother right away."
Taylor's father, Rob Taylor, is a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle who played eight seasons in the NFL after completing his college career at Northwestern. Thursday's honor for Taylor provides him with some bragging rights over his father.
"I always tell him I was a way bigger recruit than he was," Taylor joked.
In fact, Taylor has been a bigger recruit than his father. In addition to receiving his Army jersey on Thursday, the four-star selected the in-state Florida Gators during the same ceremony. He attributed his decision to a level of comfort with the program in Gainesville as well as how he believes offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will utilize his abilities. His options were plentiful with Will Muschamp's team beating out the likes of Penn State and Florida State, as well as numerous others, for his services.
Before he arrives in Gainesville though, Taylor is determined to make his own mark in the Army Bowl. The younger Taylor though understands the importance and significance with regards to the tradition tied into the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and some of the greats that have played in it over the past decade.
"It is awesome," Taylor said. "There have been so many first-round picks in this game. Just to be able to play in it and for a group like the Army, who serves our country, it is awesome."
With his decision out of the way and his recruitment concluded, Taylor said he is heading to San Antonio, Texas in early January with one mission on his mind.
"I want to become a five-star," Taylor said. "I want to go prove myself on a national level."
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound tight end will have that opportunity in San Antonio where he will compete against his East teammates for a week in practice before turning his attention to trying to achieve a victory against a loaded West squad. He is looking forward to playing beside and against some of the best talent in that nation.
"Everybody is pretty good," Taylor said. "I just want to compete against everybody that is there, because everybody is good."
In addition to his goal to prove himself as one of the nation's top elite prospects, the Sunshine State prospect also welcomes the opportunity to represent himself, his family, Land O'Lakes, and Gator Nation on national television during the game.
"It is definitely great," Taylor said. "I am glad I get to do it and I am going to do it the best that I can."
Taylor and the East team take on the West in the 12th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game will be nationally televised on NBC.