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December 22, 2008In the shadow of his younger brother;s impending decision to play Division I football, former Denison standout Ryan Taylor made the choice where he will finish out his college career.
The 6-foot-4, 292-pound offensive lineman gave a verbal commitment to UCLA on his official visit this past the weekend, choosing the Bruins over Kansas State, Arkansas State, Tulsa and UAB among several other programs that were continuing to show interest.
Taylor will sign his national letter of intent to play for UCLA today at 9 a.m. in the Denison athletic offices.
The Bruins went 4-8 this past season in their first year under head coach Rick Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow.
"I don't think it's going to get any better," Taylor said about his choice. "The whole campus was nice. I really like Coach Neuheisel and Coach Chow."
The Bruins will have 16 returning offensive linemen on the roster for the 2009 season but there are almost no upperclassmen in the group.
Since Taylor has only two seasons of eligibility left, he was looking for a place where he could contribute immediately and Neuheisel is giving him that chance.
"His plan is for me to go out here and start at left guard," Taylor said. "I went to the Rose Bowl on Saturday and I knew that was where I wanted to play."
After spending the next few months working out in the area with former teammate Kevin Holzbog, who will walk on at Appalachian State next season, Taylor will enroll at UCLA in April and participate in spring practice.
Taylor was an all-district first-team selection as a senior at Denison in 2005 and originally signed with Texas A&M-Commerce.
But an academic mix-up put him at Grayson County College for a semester and then Taylor played the last two seasons at Tyler Junior College, including this past year alongside former Jacket teammate Rex Petty as the Apaches went 5-4 and he earned all-conference honors.
As part of a unit where all five linemen will eventually be in Division I programs, Taylor started his freshman year at center and began this past season there before moving to right guard.
Taylor will enter school in March and be able to participate in spring ball. He is a versatile athlete who could end up playing either center or guard for the Bruins.
"It was a very good decision for me to go to junior college," Taylor said. "It gave me a chance to be recruited all over again."
Ryan's younger brother, Jordan Taylor, was Denison's starting quarterback this past season as a junior and is in the middle of being recruited by several big-time programs.
"Pretty much everyone I've talked to knows about him," Taylor said. "They haven't talked about a package deal at all but we've never played together and we'd have one season left so that would be kind of cool."