By Gabriel Stovall
LOVEJOY, Ga. — California Golden Bears fans, give yourselves a pat on the back for your latest football recruiting grab.
Marquese Taylor, a 3-star WR/DB from South Metro Atlanta’s Lovejoy High School made his commitment to Cal firm on Monday night, just hours after returning from his official visit this past weekend. In fact, the pledge was so real to Taylor, he was walking around the Lovejoy campus Tuesday morning donning a gray and blue sweatshirt with “California-Berkeley” printed across the front.
Taylor was present Saturday during Cal’s big come-from-behind 50-43 win over then-No. 11 Texas. It was a game atmosphere unlike anything Taylor had seen which tipped the scales for him to choose Cal over Tennessee, Colorado State, Cincinnati and Purdue.
“The atmosphere was just amazing Saturday,” Taylor said. “The fans were so hype and it was a great feeling. They just looked like they came together as a family and helped the team play hard and came out with a win. I loved it.”
He loved it so much that he called the California Memorial Stadium environment a major factor that assuaged his earlier fears about joining the Bears’ family.
“It probably played about a 50-50 in terms of me committing,” he said. “I was skeptical at first because of how far it was from home. But they really showed love and, like I said, it just felt like a family. After the game we all got together and had fun going out to eat with the players. I felt like I started some good relationships out there.”
Taylor said the Cal coaches are looking for him to slide into a nickel or safety role in its defense. But the 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior is excelling on both sides of the ball for Lovejoy which plays in Class AAAAAA, the second highest classification in talent-rich Georgia.
Through four games, Taylor is the team’s leading receiver with 16 grabs for 267 yards and a touchdown. He’s been benefiting lately from the addition of pro-style quarterback John Seter who transferred to Lovejoy from Connecticut just before the season started.
He started his high school career at Luella, but transferred to Lovejoy after his sophomore year. It’s a decision he believes was integral to his progress as a Division I caliber football player.
“Being at Lovejoy has definitely helped me a lot,” he said. “Coming from Luella, I don’t think I had the drive like I have here. The coaches pushed me harder here and brought me in basically as another family member.”
Taylor has a 2.8 grade point average at Lovejoy and is planning on majoring either in business or physical therapy. He said the school’s academic reputation was just as much a part of his decision as anything.
“Besides the environment, the education aspect is definitely there,” he said. “That’s why I feel like I’m 100 percent solid with my commit, because I really think from an education standpoint, this school can really bring out everything in me and how great I think I can become. I feel like being there can make me a better man.”
The weather doesn’t hurt either. Taylor said temperatures in Berkeley during his visit hovered in the mid to upper 70s with plenty of sunshine and gentle breezes — a far cry in comfort from the lower 90s Georgia is still seeing, even late into September.
“The weather was perfect,” he said. “Definitely not as hot as it is (in Georgia). It felt good every day, consistently. I’m excited to be there and apart of that family.”