University of Tennessee defensive back Alontae Taylor has already decided what his future holds.
The Vols’ four-year starter announced on Wednesday that he would forgo playing in Tennessee’s yet-to-be-announced bowl game and enter the 2022 NFL Draft. Taylor will still participate in February's Reece’s Senior Bowl, which will serve as a pre-draft skills showcase for NFL scouts.
Taylor, who graduates in December, decided not to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted to all NCAA student-athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have battled through an injury these past two weeks, but I couldn’t let my teammates and coaches down by sitting out,” Taylor tweeted on Wednesday. “I signed here to Give My All and that I did. This is by far the toughest decision I have ever made. It is with a heavy heart that I announce my decision to forego the bowl game to get healthy.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to hear my name called and play in the NFL. With much consideration, prayer, and family discussions, I will be turning my attention to the Senior Bowl and declaring for the 2022 NFL DRAFT!”
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. currently has Taylor in a three-way tie with Mississippi State’s Martin Emerson and Iowa’s Riley Moss as the No. 10-ranked cornerback in the 2022 draft.
Taylor is currently projected to be drafted anywhere from the third to fifth round. He’s the No. 78-ranked player in the draft by CBS Sports and No. 90-ranked player by The Draft Network.
The Manchester native and Coffee County alum recorded 60 tackles, two interceptions, six pass breakups and a forced fumble in 2021. He ends his UT career with 162 tackles, 19 passes defensed, five tackles for loss, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and one defensive touchdown.
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