Clemson football player Will Taylor will “absolutely” keep playing two sports at the school despite a baseball coaching change this summer, he said.
Taylor, a dual-sport athlete from Irmo’s Dutch Fork High School, played football for coach Dabo Swinney and baseball for coach Monte Lee as a true freshman.
And though the dynamic wide receiver/punt returner has been heavily focused on football preseason camp, he said Clemson’s firing of Lee and hiring of former Michigan coach Erik Bakich this summer won’t change his spring 2023 plans.
“I actually haven’t been over there yet (to meet Bakich),” Taylor said Monday. “I know he’s been out recruiting, and we’ve been busy over here with football. But I’m excited to see what the future holds and excited to get over there and play for him.”
Taylor, a former high school quarterback and three-star 2021 recruit, flashed tantalizing playmaking ability in limited action for both programs last athletic year.
He started Clemson football’s season opener against eventual national champion Georgia at punt returner and, one week later, recorded the program’s longest punt return in three years when he ripped off a 53-yard return against South Carolina State.
Taylor ultimately played 15 offensive snaps in five games before tearing his right ACL against Boston College. He ended his freshman season with five carries for 20 yards, two catches for 6 yards and six punt returns for 64 yards (10.7 yards per return) and one 14-yard kickoff return.
The 5-foot-10 Taylor, a 19th-round pick of the Texas Rangers out of high school, missed football spring practice and Clemson’s first 45 baseball games as he rehabbed post-surgery. But he healed up in time to play in the Tigers’ last 13 baseball games.
Logging starts at left field, right field and designated hitter, Taylor hit .260 with 14 runs, four RBI and one home run. He also had a .320 slugging percentage and 0.397 on-base percentage and drew nine walks.
Taylor was the first Clemson football player to appear in a baseball game since DJ Reader in 2013. Reader, a former defensive tackle now playing for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, briefly pitched for the baseball team.
Taylor has since pivoted to football mode. He has been a full participant in the team’s first three preseason practices and said Monday he feels “faster than I was 12 months ago” after recovering from his ACL tear.
“Just trying to get the moves back and the lateral movement back,” he said. “The past three days have been great so far, so I’m excited to keep it going.”