2011 Texas OL commit Taylor Doyle (photo by the author)
Name: Taylor Doyle
Position: Offensive line
High School: Lake Travis
Rating (Rivals): Three out of five (5.7)
Put Taylor Doyle into the category of guys that were locked into Texas for some time. A lifelong Longhorn fan growing up just outside of Austin in Lake Travis, the fact that three former teammates -- quarterback Garrett Gilbert, walk-on wide receiver Cade McCrary, and tackle Paden Kelley -- currently play for Texas no doubt made his decision easier.
When kids make comments like, "I want to look around just to be safe," while basically saying that they love Texas, it's a subtle way of hedging their bet in case the Texas offer doesn't come. For Doyle, he never had to worry about that, despite breaking an ankle during the Lake Travis playoff run of 2009 that eventually led to a state championship.
Another one of the early commits in the class, Doyle was one of three recruits to commit on the evening of the first Junior Day, along with Jaxon Shipley and Chet Moss. As such, Doyle shares some credit for starting the type of recruiting momentum that helped eventually land Texas 13 commits over the weekend of JD1.
On Texas before his commitment:
They have a great program. I just like that school a lot. Really, I like everything about it. I like the campus and the whole aspect of Texas.
On getting his Texas offer ($):
They told me they were going to offer me but even having them tell me, it kind of shocking when thy finally said it in person.
On what he likes about Texas:
I'm a big fan of the family atmosphere at Texas. Going into that visit, I had heard a lot about it. I thought it was overrated but I came to realize it wasn't. They are like family. And growing up in Austin, wearing orange, it's always been my dream since I was little.
On playing with former teammates:
It really does feel good. I have a couple friends from Lake Travis that are already on the team, so it will be pretty cool to join them playing for Longhorns.
- Texas (committed 2/12/2010)
- Texas Tech
Like Garrett Gilbert and Paden Kelley, Taylor Doyle is a winner. In each season as a starter on the Lake Travis offensive line, the Cavaliers won state championships. In fact, Doyle hasn't lost since one of his first starts on varsity, early in his sophomore season against Westlake. Clearly, Doyle has done nothing on the line to cost his team a game.
More than simply the success at Lake Travis, his work in the spread offense as a right tackle for two seasons and as the left tackle replacing Kelley as a junior, Doyle has extensive game repetitions in pass protection, providing not only a great deal of game experience, but also a volume of game film for coaches to analyze while making their evaluations.
What becomes apparent is that Doyle has excellent feet and uses his hands well both in pass protection and in the running game. Lake Travis also uses the screen game extensively, particularly for do-everything receiver/running back Andy Erickson both from the running back position and from the receiver position -- Doyle has experience in space, where he can use his quick feet to get to the second level. Since he does shoot his hands well and uses them to control defenders, Doyle does a solid job of maintaining his balance and leverage. Failure to do either one of those things is a death knell for offensive linemen and, like most linemen his age, are areas in which Doyle occasionally struggles.
A tough evaluation from PB following the Aledo game:
Doyle is an inexplicable take. Had exactly one pancake in the entire half. Whiffed multiple times. Got beat repeatedly by a stubby end who won't play college ball. Blocked with the tenacity of a kid who doesn't love football -- i.e. disposition of Ulatoski, but without the physical skills. Just... wow. I wasn't expecting much, but this was pathetic.
A less harsh take on Doyle from the same game:
While PB's take above was quite scathing, Doyle had a better second half than he did the opening frame. After being beat on the edge in the first half and looking slow and immobile trying to get to the second level, Doyle at least increased his aggressiveness after the intermission. On one play, he pancaked his opponent, then followed up by driving the Aledo defensive end -- admittedly not a college prospect by any stretch -- 15 yards downfield. Soon after, Doyle set the edge for an important Lake Travis first down, pinning his man inside.
There are several considerations here -- the first is that Doyle may not be fully healthy or in top condition after his injury in the state championship game. Both of those factors could have contributed to his poor kick step and inability to change direction in space.
However, the accurate assessment is probably that Doyle was a questionable take at this point -- he doesn't have the feet to play outside in college and the fact that he can't make plays in space doesn't bode well for his ability to pull as a guard, either. Keeping his feet moving and chopping when he latches onto an opponent would help him as well. The bottom line is that Doyle has a long way to go to contribute at Texas.
- Size -- As expected, Doyle looks the part of a collegiate offensive lineman, with the height and frame to contribute at Texas.
- Experience -- There's no question that Doyle is a winner, having brought home state championships in each of his three seasons on varsity at Lake Travis. Being a "winner" brings mostly intangibles to the table, but it does tangibly provide a player with the type of work ethic and understanding of what it takes to win that often translates well to college. In addition, Doyle also received plenty of extra reps in all those playoffs games, often against some of the best athletes that the 4A classification has to offer in Texas.
- Pass protection -- Although he struggled against Aledo at times in this area, Doyle has plenty of experience pass blocking and played out of a two-point stance at Lake Travis throughout his career. His pass protection has suffered a bit as his athleticism decreased following his injury. As a junior, his balance and ability to handle both speed rushers and inside moves helped make him a high-profile prospect.
- Footwork in space -- Although most scouting reports have Doyle as a relatively athletic line prospect, he didn't look comfortable in space for most of the game against Aledo.
- Ability to finish blocks -- Even at the high school level, Doyle didn't consistently pancake his opponents. As he gets stronger, he will have to learn how to finish blocks.
- Pad level -- Since he often played out a two-point stance, Doyle didn't always use good pad level in the running game and that hurt his ability to blow opponents off the ball.
- Overall athleticism -- Though he was known as a junior as a fairly athletic guy in space ($), he didn't show that as much as a senior and that's a serious concern because offensive linemen often lose some athleticism if they add bad weight in college.
Taylor Doyle Highlights (via 247SportsStudio)
Target Weight -- 300 pounds. The key for Doyle is less about pure mass than about redistributing some of his body weight. After losing about four months to his broken ankle, Doyle looked noticeably less lean than he did as a junior. Like every player, he needs to add significant strength at Texas, but also needs to balance his mass with maximizing his athleticism, already a question mark.
As one of the few three-star commits in the 2011 class, Doyle's scholarship is bound to come under question for that reason alone. The fact that Doyle is now ranked 78th in the last 2011 LSR -- and this by a guy who is obviously biased towards the Longhorns -- doesn't help things.
The major concern is that he won't recover the athleticism that he had before his ankle injury, the athleticism that made him an appealing guy because there was a chance that he could play outside in college, greatly enhancing his value. At this point, it looks like Doyle will have to play guard and may not even be particularly useful pulling into space or getting to the second level and making blocks in the zone scheme Texas will continue to employ. A redshirt year is certainly in the offing.
Those are some serious question marks for Doyle and the result is that he's one of the more questionable takes in this class. Was he Texas good as a junior? Probably so. Was he Texas good as a senior? He certainly didn't look like it at times. The bottom line is the guy has a lot to prove when he makes the short trip down to Austin to enroll in classes this summer.
Impact ETA: Eventually, hopefully. Snark aside, the hope is that the new strength and conditioning program will benefit Doyle to the extent that he can recover his athleticism to contribute at guard and not go the route of Steve Moore. Call it 2014 in the best-case scenario. Coach him up, Stacy, you're needed here.