At 6-8 and 273 pounds, Vandalia (Ohio) Butler class of 2012 prospect Taylor Decker has ideal size for a college offensive tackle prospect. Not surprisingly, the college interest has come early and often for Decker and he picked up his first scholarship offer of the process last month.
"Cincinnati offered me last weekend, so I went there [Saturday] and talked with all their coaches," Decker reported. "I've been there before, but they wanted to see me and talk to me after they offered me, and see what I thought about the school.
"Coach [Mark] Elder is the one who recruits my area. I talk to him a lot and my coach said it would be a good idea if I gave him a call. He said that they got all the film I sent to them and really liked what they saw, thought I would be a good boost to their program so they were going to go ahead and offer me now. It was really exciting and opened my eyes that even if that is my only offer I can be a Division 1 football player at a good university.
Decker has also made unofficial game visits to Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan this fall and has several more schools asking him to attend their games.
"Coach [Randy] Bates from Northwestern was at my school last Friday and he wants me to come to either Iowa or the game after that at Wrigley Field," Decker said. "I was going to go down to West Virginia one weekend and I've been invited to some schools far away like Duke and Texas A&M, but I just can't get there on an unofficial visit. I've also been invited to Penn State, but I don't know if I will be able to get down there."
At this early stage of the process, Decker lists Cincinnati, Ohio State and Notre Dame as his three frontrunners, and spoke about what attracts him to each program.
"I've always been an Ohio State fan, but I haven't been able to really talk to any of their coaches on the phone or one-on-one," Decker said. "They are always a great program and a powerhouse. They are always putting out NFL tackles which, even though I am a 17-year old kid, the ultimate goal would be to play in the NFL.
"With Notre Dame, I really like their campus and even though they are not having a great year it is Coach Kelly's first year. With his blocking schemes I am the kind of lineman they recruit. There is a lot of tradition there, which I like, and it is a great school which is good for a degree.
"Cincinnati by far has my favorite coaching staff. I've talked to almost all of them and they all seem to be really good guys. Saturday I was down at UC again and I talked to all of their coaches except Coach Jones. I have talked to Coach Jones at their camp, and they seem like really good people who are taking the program in the right direction."
Butler High finished their season last week with a 4-6 record. This was Decker's second full year as a starter for his team.
"My freshman year I just played freshman ball. We had a different coach that year and he just liked to play the older guys. A lot of people said they thought I should have started as a freshman," Decker said. "My sophomore year we got a new coach and I almost wasn't going to play because I was really big into basketball at the time, but my sophomore year I started at right tackle even though I was only 240 that year.
"Over the summer I started lifting a lot and two days ago I weighed in at 273. This year I switched to left tackle and earlier in the year there were some packages where I played at tight end. I also played some defensive end because I like to think I can move pretty well. Next year I am going to be starting both ways at defensive end and left tackle."
Decker was also a varsity starter on his high school's basketball team as a sophomore, but he now feels his future is on the gridiron.
"I'm still going to play in high school because a lot of coaches really like my footwork and I got a lot of my footwork from basketball," he said, "but I'm pretty sure I'm playing college football now. Going on all these visits and talking to all the coaches has opened my eyes to what I can potentially do in college football."