DANVERS — In his four years on the St. John’s Prep football team, James Taylor was known for wreaking havoc in the trenches. As Taylor made a name for himself and emerged as one of the top defensive tackles in Massachusetts, college programs took notice.
Last week, Taylor made his college plans official when he committed to play football at Division III Curry College of the Commonwealth Coast Conference.
“It was definitely a weight lifted off my shoulders,” said Taylor, a Peabody native who resides in Marblehead. “It feels great to know that I’ll be able to play for a great football team in the fall. It’s great to know that I have all the support I need from my friends, family and football coaches.”
Taylor said he considered a handful of other schools during the recruiting process but was most impressed by what the Colonels offered him.
“Curry was the best fit for me,” Taylor said. “They have everything I wanted in a school. (Curry football) Coach (Skip) Bandini offered me the most. He’s giving me the chance to show what I’m really worth in playing football at the next level.
“I was considering other schools but Curry was definitely the one. I knew it as soon as they reached out to me after our season ended.”
Taylor’s senior season was one worth remembering. A co-captain, he helped lead the Eagles to a Division 1 state championship, was named an Item All-Star and earned Catholic Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors.
“This whole senior season was like a dream come true for me,” Taylor said. “We won the Super Bowl, I was named Catholic Conference Defensive MVP and I won a couple other individual awards. I couldn’t have asked for a better senior season.”
Taylor joins a Colonels team that struggled during the 2018 season. Curry started the year on the upswing, winning two of its first three games. Once the Colonels stepped into the CCC portion of their schedule things went downhill quickly. Curry went 1-5 against CCC opponents (the lone win coming against Becker) and finished the season 3-7.
Taylor’s confident he can jump into the mix and contribute as a freshman.
“They’re a winning program,” Taylor said. “They’ve won a lot. They had a tough season last season but they’re a young team. They’re building and I want to help them build. Coach Bandini has a mentality where seniors and freshmen are all equal. They’re going to compete in practice and the better guy will play that week. It’s all about competing and fighting for the job.
“I was looking for a school where the football program has a mentality in which players compete and freshmen have as equal a chance to play as underclassmen. I wanted to be able to show that I can be one of the guys that works hardest at practice. That’s what Curry has to offer.”
Taylor knows challenges are ahead as he aims to make a name for himself at Curry.
“I think I’ll be able to make the adjustments,” said Taylor, who plans to major in criminal justice. “I just have to push myself, take the coaching and do whatever I need to make those adjustments. I’m looking forward to doing whatever it takes to be able to play at the next level.”