Tennessee Vols defensive back Alontae Taylor, who originally signed as a wide receiver, is arguably the most important player Jeremy Pruitt signed in his first recruiting class as a head coach.
Taylor has become a key cog in the Volunteers’ secondary as a true freshman. He’s among the nation’s leaders in fewest yards allowed per snap by a cornerback.
The following cornerbacks have allowed the fewest yards per cover snap so far in 2018. pic.twitter.com/lifqnlobuu
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 7, 2018
As important as Taylor is to Tennessee’s defense, he almost didn’t end up in Knoxville.
In fact, Taylor tried to commit to Georgia, but Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart failed to pick up the phone. According to The Athletic, the unanswered call is what prompted Taylor to sign with Pruitt and the Vols.
— David Ubben (@davidubben) November 8, 2018
Taylor decommitted from Tennessee last November after Butch Jones was fired. When Taylor decommitted, it appeared he was destined for Georgia.
The Manchester, TN native was extremely close with five-star Bulldogs quarterback Justin Fields (who was committed to UGA at the time). Taylor took an official visit to Georgia shortly after decommitting from Tennessee. He also failed to include the Volunteers in his top five schools after his decommitment.
The fact that Pruitt was able to sway Taylor back to Rocky Top is an incredibly impressive feat. Especially going up against Georgia, who was in the College Football Playoff at the time.
Of course, that missed phone call by Kirby Smart certainly helped Pruitt and Tennessee.
Who knows what would’ve happened had Smart answered the phone. Maybe Taylor would be a game changing wide receiver in Athens right now.
Fortunately for the Vols, we’ll never know.
Featured image via John Reed-USA TODAY Sports