Taquan Mizzell earned the nickname “Smoke” his first year at Bayside High School (Virginia Beach, VA). The 5’10”, 180-pound running back, now a junior, didn’t play on the varsity his freshman season, but he did impress top Marlins varsity players including Tra Nicholson, Henry Coley and more.
“My freshman year, we would do open field tackling drills and I’d go against our big-time players,” Mizzell recalled. “I always made the person I was going against miss.”
Mizzell took advantage of his opportunities on the varsity last season as a sophomore, rushing for 1,472 yards and totaling 22 touchdowns. Smoke came up big in the postseason, rushing for almost 600 yards in four games. Bayside went undefeated in the 2010 regular season and made it to the Group AAA, Division 6 state semifinals.
This season, Mizzell continues to play the role of primary ball-carrier, but he is also showing off his talents as a receiver out of the backfield. Being a versatile back is something the Marlins star takes pride in.
“I know for sure I can do multiple things on the next level,” Mizzell said. “I know I can run and block, and that’s the main part of the game. I can spread out whenever coach needs me to. This year, I’ve been flaring out a lot. I’m doing a lot of things this year. Coach [Darnell] Moore has been telling me since I was young that what separates me is my route running. When I go to camps and see other running backs running routes, I can see it. It’s way different.”
The University of Virginia offered a scholarship last spring, towards the end of Mizzell’s sophomore year. Landing that first offer “was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” Mizzell said.
East Carolina, N.C. State, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech have since followed suit, giving the Bayside standout six offers in total. Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Tennessee are among the schools showing serious interest.
“As of right now, I am taking my time picking what school I’m going to,” Mizzell said when asked if he was focused on the recruiting process at all at this point. “I am focusing on academics and football right now. I’m just kind of open right now.”
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