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Feb 04, 2023

Taylor Made

By: Collin Stevens

With spring practice already underway and opening day quickly approaching, Clemson baseball is preparing for a promising season. Under first-year Head Coach Erik Bakich, the Tigers seek to establish themselves as serious postseason contenders and capitalize on a talented roster.

For Clemson football fans, this year’s team includes a familiar face. Sophomore outfielder Will Taylor returns to Tiger baseball this spring, picking up a glove in place of his helmet and pads.

Last year, Taylor became the first Tiger athlete to play both football and baseball since D.J. Reader of the Cincinnati Bengals, who played baseball for Clemson in 2013. Taylor returns this year as an important piece of the puzzle for the success of the baseball program, both on and off the field.

The Irmo, S.C. native is a product of an athletic family. His grandfather played both baseball and football at The Citadel, and his father was a wrestler. They played a crucial role in getting him involved in sports from an early age.

“I take after them. They preferred me to play as many sports as I could growing up and I fell in love with both sports.”

Taylor took their advice to heart. At Dutch Fork High School in Columbia S.C., he set himself apart as a generational talent with freakish athleticism. He led the Silver Foxes to a AAAAA state football championship at quarterback and earned three more as a wrestler. He also played baseball and ran track.

By his senior year, his talent drew the attention of college and professional programs, and in 2021, he signed with Clemson to play baseball and football.

While his ability on the diamond had already earned him the status of a potential MLB first-round draft pick, Taylor chose to pursue his college goals first. For Taylor, his teammates come before draft status or major league money.

“We have some of the best teammates in the country and some of the best coaches in the country, and I try to take advantage of them every single day. Clemson University is the biggest stage there is in the country, and we’re here to win.”

Unfortunately for Taylor, the games would have to wait. An ACL injury suffered against Boston College ended his freshman football season and forced him to miss the first 45 games of the baseball campaign.

When he finally got his opportunity to take the field in May, he did not hesitate to put up solid numbers despite a shortened season. He batted .260 with a homer, four RBIs and 14 runs in 13 games. His 13 starts included seven in left field, four in right field and two in the DH role.

For Taylor, it is all about doing what he can to help the team.

“I stick to the plan all along, keep my head down and grind. I just want to contribute so we can get to regionals, super regionals and hopefully Omaha.”

And while he has a significant effect on the game, Taylor’s contribution to the Tiger baseball program is not limited to his time on the field.

According to junior lefthander Ryan Ammons, the impact that Taylor has in the locker room is second to none.

“He’s a great guy who brings a lot of energy, he just loves being here and there’s no off-days. He’s going to show up with the same attitude and same energy, and it’s infectious. Everyone wants a piece of Will Taylor.”

The energy and dedication Ammons speaks of not only encompasses Taylor’s athletic journey and love of his family, but also his role as a student at Clemson University.

As a student-athlete, his production on the field is matched by his performance in the classroom. In 2022, Taylor was recognized as an ACC Academic Honor Roll member.

In spite of academic success, he remains focused on the road ahead. When asked what his mindset is heading into this upcoming season, he put it in simple terms.

“One practice and game at a time. It’s really important for us to have this week and next week and really get better as a team one day at a time. That’s what I learned last year. Every game is the biggest game of the year.”

For those in an evolving Clemson baseball program, it is his selfless talent, class and a willingness to buy-in that makes him Taylor made to don the orange and purple for Team 126.