Up Close: Taylor Sowell

Up Close: Taylor Sowell

ROEBUCK, S.C. --- Before building the reputation as one of the most physical and hard hitting cornerbacks in the Carolinas, North Carolina commitment Taylor Sowell was on the path to becoming a slot receiver in Dorman High School's offense.

"Our big thing going in [to the 2007 season] was we didn't have any corners coming back," Dorman head football coach Dave Gutshall said. "So we moved our two best players to corner, because I don't think you can be very good defensively if you're not good at corner no matter what level – pro, college, or high school."

In 2006, Sowell, then a sophomore on varsity for the first time, was utilized as a slot receiver. The move to cornerback his junior season proved to be beneficial for both Dorman's defense and Sowell himself.

Junior Season Highlights:

"He did an outstanding job," Gutshall said. "He became so important to the defense that each week we lessened his offensive responsibilities. We didn't want to hurt the defense, so we tried to keep him off the offense. He was still part of our [offensive] depth in case we would have had some key injuries."

Sowell, a 6-foot, 175-pounder, ended his junior season with six interceptions, 40 tackles, and seven pass break-ups.

"He plays like a linebacker – not many corners do," Gutshall said. "He's a very physical athlete. He's tough on wide outs, because he bangs them around quick a bit. So he gives us quite an advantage. Plus, he has all the ball skills and the hips to be successful."

The plan heading into the 2008 season is for Sowell to undertake a heavy load - start on both offense and defense, and handle punt return and kick return duties.

During his junior season, Sowell received tickets to attend the UNC-South Carolina football game in Chapel Hill. He accepted the invitation and thus his recruitment by UNC began.

Two weeks later, Sowell returned to Chapel Hill for UNC's ACC bout with Maryland.

"They still hadn't really evaluated me yet," Sowell said. "They were asking about my film – that's what they wanted to see so they could go from there and evaluate me."

Following his high school football season, Sowell made sure UNC received a copy of his highlight tape. Shortly thereafter, Sowell and Chuck Pagano, then UNC's defensive coordinator and secondary coach, started to communicate regularly.

A week or so before Signing Day, UNC extended Sowell a scholarship offer.

"I went into one of my coach's offices and he said he was on the phone with one of the [UNC] coaches and they offered me a scholarship," Sowell said. "I had called back up there and wanted to tell them thanks. I was very excited."

Around the same time frame, Sowell collected offers from Georgia Tech, Virginia, and West Virginia.

With Pagano leaving UNC for the Baltimore Ravens, John Blake took up Sowell's recruitment and closed the deal.

"I just knew I wanted to be a Tar Heel," Sowell said. "When I visited I loved the facilities and I loved the fan support. UNC has great academics. The coaches they have, I believe in them and I think I'll do good up there."

Sowell shared his sentiments with Gutshall.

"When I talked to him, he said he knew he wanted to go to school there," Gutshall said. "He felt good about it, so there was no use to keep beating around the bush if he knew where he wanted to go."

A couple of weeks after committing, Sowell attended UNC's Junior Day as Tar Heel pledge.

"It was fun," Sowell said. "I got to know more of the coaches. I got to talk to them in person.

"I got to talk to some of the players like [Trimane Goddard]. He was cool. We talked and went to the basketball game – that was fun. So I had a good time when I was up there."

More importantly, though, the visit confirmed to Sowell that he made the right decision.

"It made me feel more comfortable seeing the coaches in person and talking to them, talking to Butch Davis and Coach [John] Lovett," Sowell said. "They made me feel comfortable and I had a pretty good time when I was up there."

UNC is recruiting Sowell as a cornerback, but Gutshall could see him excelling elsewhere in the secondary.

"I wouldn't be surprised in college if they don't move him to safety," Gutshall said. "He's a very intense guy and reminds you more of a safety than a corner. I'm not saying that he doesn't cover well, because he does, but he's looking to make contact.

"We've played with him a little bit there, but we want to be good at corner and we're afraid if we move him to safety we won't be as good at corner. But they'll be times next year that Taylor might be at safety. If we're playing a run team that doesn't throw much, we're going to put him where he's going to make the biggest impact."

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