Damani Taylor is one of the best players from the Tampa, FL area in the Class of 2021.
The 5-foot-6, 117-pound Taylor, who attends Dowdell Middle School, is a versatile athlete that plays both sides of the ball as a quarterback, wide receiver, cornerback and safety for the Brandon Ravens, an organization in the TBYFL.
Taylor is one of the most impressive players pound for pound in the area.
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Taylor was recognized for his talents by being selected as a member of FBU Team Tampa.
Taylor is humbled for the opportunity to showcase his skills and compete against some outstanding players.
“It motivates me because being the smallest on the team i see that size doesn’t matter and it pushes me to go harder and play more aggressive,” Taylor said. “It’s a great experience because I play with the best of the best and plus the coaching is great. It’s almost like a high school experience.”
Taylor has an immense passion and burning desire for the game of football. The physicality and camaraderie are major reasons Taylor was drawn to the sport.
“I love football because it is physical and it requires a team effort,” Taylor said.
Taylor has learned many valuable lessons on the football field that he applies to other aspects of his life.
“It taught me to never give up and that you have to overcome obstacles in life to succeed,” Taylor said.
Taylor recalls his favorite moment on a football field.
“My favorite memory is when I played my first game at quarterback because I was the leader of the team and I like leading,” Taylor said.
Taylor is extremely determined to make winning plays on every snap on both sides of the ball.
“My mindset it is either score or make the opposing team lose yardage,” Taylor said.
Butch Taylor is in his first season coaching his son Damani with the Brandon Ravens.
Mr. Taylor has been involved with the TBYFL for 28 yrs and sits on the executive board as a Vice President.
However Mr. Taylor became the head coach of his son’s team this year due to the head coach stepping down.
Mr. Taylor explains the best parts of his son’s game on both sides of the ball.
“It’s his speed and the ability to track a ball down without breaking stride at wide receiver. At cover corner it’s the quick step to close on a ball and great reflex to bat the ball down if it’s not catchable,” Mr. Taylor said. “At running back he can really hit the hole or separate from a defender. It’s just speed speed speed. At quarterback he played in the playoffs and his legs were his strong point. As a punt returner and kickoff returner his speed kills.”
Taylor is one of the most influential members of the Ravens team. Taylor constantly makes sure he’s setting a positive example for his peers to follow.
“I try to be a good teammate by correcting my teammates if they're doing something wrong or I push them in practice to go their hardest when they're slacking,” Taylor said. “The best advice I give them is if they really want to build a future on the sport of football ball they have to play hard and have fun.”
Mr. Taylor is proud of the way his son uses a lead by example approach to inspire his teammates.
“He’s not vocal all the time but he leads by action and work at practice and playing bigger than he is at game time,” Mr. Taylor said.
Taylor is grateful to have a coaching staff filled with excellent male role models.
“They make me a better player by pushing me at practice and getting me into shape and they make me a better person by staying on me about school and leading me down the right path,” Taylor said. “The best advice they give me is to always work hard and that effort pays off.”
Mr. Taylor recalls a moment that perfectly encapsulates the big-play threat that Taylor offers each time he’s on the field.
“Other team’s [Progress Village Panthers] driving. We are down by four points. They throw to his side and he picks it off at the 1-yard line and returns it 99 yards the other way,” Mr. Taylor said. “He helps change the team’s mood. Kids upset because things are not going our way. then Damani makes a big catch or a great run or tackles and it lifts the spirit of the team.”
Mr. Taylor says his son’s work ethic is the best thing about him and that the coaching staff is excited for how much better he can become.
“He works very hard on and off the field. He watches film and works with Kevin Knox Sr. and I one on one for what we call special work,” Mr. Taylor said. “We are focusing on the entire body of work. He needs improvement across the board. So we continue to walk through and teach him the principles of football. We go over and over and teach proper techniques on the positions he plays.”
Taylor lists his favorite subject in school as science.
“Because I like the hands on activities we do and the projects we get to do,” Taylor said.
Taylor patterns his style of play at quarterback after last season’s Heisman Trophy winner.
“The player I look up to the most as of now is Lamar Jackson because he is a very dynamic player,” Taylor said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Taylor says those in the area compare his son to this spark plug at wide receiver.
“At wide receiver the city says Desean Jackson,” Mr. Taylor said. “It’s the speed, the swagger in the field of play. His punt return and kickoff returns makes the crowd stand up to see what will happen. He is very fast.”
Taylor one day would love to attend LSU and be the next great Tiger.
Mr. Taylor believes there’s no limit to how far his son can go in his football career.
“His potential is high and he can go far if he continues to work hard and make great grades,” Mr. Taylor said. “Football is in his DNA so we expect nothing less if he really wants it.”
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