As we've stated before, our early choice as the top player in the West region heading in to the spring evaluation period is Seattle (Wash.) O'Dea defensive back Taylor Mays. The talented safety just took unofficial visits in the past week to UCLA, USC and attended Washington's Junior Day and gave us his thoughts on each school.
Mays, 6-3, 215 pounds could be the best player to come out of the Northwest since former Husky star Reggie Williams five years ago. The athlete has linebacker size and tremendous speed and won the state 100 and 200m title a year ago as a sophomore.
Mays then had a dominant showing at the Nike Camp in Eugene last summer wowing on lookers with his ability as a shut down corner in the one on one drills. His ability to run and cover really separates him from other safeties nationally and his upside is as big as any player we've seen this year.
Here is what the talented safety had to say about his unofficial tour last week.
"I flew in to Los Angeles Wednesday night," Mays said. "Thursday, UCLA had a Junior Day for all sports so I checked it out and they definitely went up in my eyes following the visit. That campus is so nice and the surrounding area is very nice as well. I got to talk to the coaches and I like them a lot and also watched the basketball game when they played USC. You can definitely tell that is one fierce rivalry between those two schools.
"They offered me on the visit as well so that was nice and overall, I had a really good time. Like I said, UCLA moved up following the trip. Friday, I spent the day at USC and that was great too. I met up with Coach Carroll when my dad and I first got there and my dad knows Pete really well already because he was the DB coach with the Vikings in 1988-89 when my dad was playing for the Vikes.
"All the coaches there are really outgoing and so energetic, it's like they feel they have the greatest job in the world coaching at SC. We took a campus tour, I got to check out the Engineering Dept. and then we went to the Coliseum. Afterwards, we went back to Coach Carroll's office and he offered me a scholarship as well.
"There is such an incredible vibe at SC, it's hard to explain. There is an air of confidence among everyone there and the players are all about competing and getting after it. I love how competitive everyone is and you can tell why they're winning National Championships right now."
"Saturday was Washington's Junior Day. We all first met at the Don James center and then went to the basketball game against Arizona. That was a pretty crazy atmosphere and we saw an incredible game. Afterwards, we took a tour of the campus, saw the football facilities and then Coach Willingham pulled me aside and talked to me for about 20 minutes about what he's trying to build at Washington and how I could fit in there.
"That was the first time I had ever met with Coach Willingham and I liked him a lot. He made a very positive impression on me and the whole experience there was a good one. I talked to some of the players on the team as well and just had a good overall experience."
So did one school stand out a little more after comparing all three just days of each other?
"Well, UCLA's campus is incredible but I would say USC really made an impression," Mays said. "The way the players there compete and how outgoing the coaches are, that is just a special place right now."
We also asked Mays if there was any family or area pressure to stay close to home and play for the Huskies where his father Stafford played.
"Not really, just a little from my mom I guess," Mays said. "She has said things like she doesn't know what she would do I left home but my whole family just wants what's best for me and will support any decision I make.
"Right now, my goal is to cut my list to a final two or three by the time school starts in September. I'm going to take a few more unofficial trips and may attend a couple of camps before I begin to narrow my list down. Right now, I'm not even close to narrowing anything down. I definitely want to check out Michigan for sure and Nebraska too. I also want to check out Notre Dame and there are a few other schools like Stanford and Cal that could jump in to the picture as well."
What are you looking for in a school?
"From a football standpoint, it's my comfort level with the coaches and the vibe I get from the players," Mays said. "I want to win a National Championship and I want to go where the players are hungry and want to compete and that's what stands out about USC so much. Academically, I'm looking for a place where the degree will matter. I'm going to major in Engineering and if my playing days are done after college, I want to go somewhere that my degree will help me to get a good job after I'm done playing football."