Dual-sport Taylor relinquishes one dream for another

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Duquesne wide receiver Kellon Taylor races past a Hawaii defender on Sept. 22.
Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Duquesne wide receiver Kellon Taylor races past a Hawaii defender on Sept. 22.

Adam Lindner | Sports Editor

Feb. 28, 2019

Kellon Taylor arrived at Duquesne in 2016 tasked with the sports-lover’s ultimate fantasy: Compete dually for separate NCAA Division I athletic teams.

Instead of heading to a FBS-level institution on a football-only scholarship, or giving up football for basketball altogether somewhere else, Taylor opted for the Bluff, where it was agreed that he could continue both ventures concurrently.

A wide receiver for DU’s football team and a power forward for the Dukes’ basketball outfit, Taylor played sparingly for both teams during his freshman year. The DeMatha product recorded 37 receiving yards and one touchdown in 2016 before joining the basketball team, where he saw action in 12 games off the bench.

As a sophomore, Taylor contributed meaningfully for Coach Jerry Schmitt’s football team, posting 276 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 20 catches. After the Dukes’ season ended following a loss to Bryant on Nov. 18, 2017, Taylor immediately re-enthralled himself with the basketball team, suiting up for DU’s game versus Robert Morris the very next day, Nov. 19.

Taylor went on to appear in 29 consecutive games for the basketball team in Keith Dambrot’s first season in 2017-18, playing an average 19.4 minutes per game.

After truly establishing himself on both the gridiron and the hardwood as a sophomore, Taylor saw himself become a preeminent part of Schmitt’s receiving corps during the 2018 season. Paired alongside speedy senior Nehari Crawford, Taylor became an ideal option for quarterback Daniel Parr in his first year at the helm of Duquesne’s offense.

Parr picked right back up where Tommy Stuart left off in 2017, making way to an impressive first year on the Bluff for the Florida Atlantic transfer. Taylor was a big part of that, securing 44 passes in 2018 for 576 yards and two scores.

That included a near 100-yard receiving day on Dec. 1, which is well into the college basketball season. That came in the second round of the FCS playoffs at South Dakota State, compliments of the fact that Taylor and Duquesne advanced further into the postseason in 2018 than the program ever had before. The Dukes won their first-ever FCS playoff game against Towson on Nov. 24, then finished the season nationally ranked in both major FCS polls (No. 21 in STATS FCS Top 25; No. 24 in AFCA Coaches’ Poll).

Afterward, Taylor returned to the Duquesne basketball team, but not for long. After receiving high praise from Dambrot as a leader for the young team, Taylor announced he’d be focusing solely on football in January. He returned for the St. Bonaventure game on Feb. 6, but only for a lack of depth for Duquesne.

From now on, the Landover, Maryland, native won’t play basketball for Duquesne, but you’ll still see him on the bench at team home games.

Taylor said that, in what was surely an agonizing decision, he leaned on his mother for support.

“We just talked about it, talked about what’s best for my future, and then what’s best for me leading into my senior season in football and what I wanna do after school,” he said.

What does Taylor want to do after school, you ask?

“My main goal, of course, is just to make it to the NFL,” he said. “So, I felt as though the best way to do that is to focus on football throughout my whole offseason.

“I need to be more with the team in football, so I decided I should be here, and do all the offseason workouts, and create better team chemistry with my team so we can be the best team possible next year.”

That doesn’t mean Taylor won’t miss basketball.

“I miss it a lot. Of course you miss the games, the atmosphere, playing in the A-10 and going on away games and things like that,” Taylor said. “I’m gonna miss it, but at the same time, I’m proud of my decision. I feel like I made the correct decision for me, based on what I wanna do with my future — I feel like this is the best thing for me.”

One part of Taylor’s reasoning is rooted in the football program’s historic success last season — and the potential for more in 2019.

“I’m ready. We had a great season this year — it kind of set the standard that Duquesne is going to be a presence. You know, we’re going to be a top FCS school,” Taylor said. “I think a lot of the team’s confidence is up, and we’re working extremely hard to get back and go even further than where we were last year.”