Southwest Onslow (Jacksonville, N.C.) head coach Charlie Dempsey started 36 games on the offensive line at East Carolina, so he knows what a major FBS-level player looks like. He recognized early on that Jimmie Taylor IV had the potential to reach college football’s highest level.
“We knew right away from watching him in middle school that if he kept progressing he could be something special,” Dempsey said. “As good as he is now, I think he still has a lot more potential in him. He has size, speed, and athleticism. Most guys that big may not move as well and most guys who are as speedy as him are smaller.”
Taylor has played on the varsity level all three seasons. He didn’t start his freshman year, but the experience gained was valuable.
“We had a young defense that year, so he moved up and got playing time on the varsity as a freshman,” Dempsey recalled. “It took him a year to really adjust, especially with his coordination. Even so, we could see glimpses of what he could do. Once he got his legs under him and he got a little stronger… well, he always had the ability to be a great player. His freshman year was a good year for him playing backup. Getting used to the speed on varsity was such a good experience, and it helped him have a good sophomore year.”
Dempsey served as Southwest Onslow’s defensive line coach for six seasons before being named head coach earlier this year.
“I was Jimmie’s defensive line coach,” said Dempsey, who is replacing Phil Padgett, head coach at Southwest Onslow for 27 seasons. “Having a guy like Jimmie… he’s a good guy to have. Obviously, his size combined with his athleticism is special.”
All four in-state ACC schools offered Taylor. Out-of-state schools such as Florida, Michigan and Tennessee offered as well, but a visit to Virginia Tech earlier this month was all the 6’3.5”, 240-pound standout needed to know where he wanted to spend his college years.
“Jimmie expressed to me it just felt right,” Dempsey said. “He had been other places and Virginia Tech just felt right. The continuity with Bud Foster being there, Frank Beamer being there, that made him feel comfortable. He knows they are going...
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