Randy Taylor Discusses Whitmer, Others

Chandler Whitmer (Jack Lyman)

There are a few athletes who are so spectacular that everyone agrees on their quality. But for the rest, opinions may vary considerably. If you want an accurate evaluation of high school football players, it is useful to speak with experts like former Illini Randy Taylor, who does talent evaluations for a living.

Randy Taylor works full time as a talent evaluator for NCSA Sports. Based in Chicago, Taylor goes to combines and camps, studies film and attends games to prepare detailed scouting reports on high school football players and helps them find a good college fit. In this capacity, he took in the Scout Combine recently in Evanston.

It was especially interesting to hear his take on new Illinois quarterback commitment Chandler Whitmer.

"Chandler is such a pretty thrower, he's compact and spins the ball so well. Other than his size (6'-1"), he's the perfect looking quarterback. He has all the techniques and fundamentals, and he's a gym rat. He's at every combine.

"That's one of the things I like about the kid. He studies the game so much. I think he's one of the guys that will be able to play the position as a pure dropback guy. I think he'll help Illinois. He'll be a better thrower than what they're used to."

Taylor noted Whitmer's efficiency in completing passes.

"He's so fundamentally sound, his release point is exactly the same every time. His footwork, the way he carries the ball, everything he does is pure. So you're gonna get efficiency with a guy like that. He's a student of the game, and he knows what a quarterback is supposed to be. He's serious about it, but he seems to have fun with it too."

As a former offensive lineman, Taylor has a good feel for those who toil in the trenches. He discussed Niles West's Shawn Afryl, another Illini commitment.

"To me, what he is is a wrestler. He's a leverage guy. He's a solid lineman, but I'm not sure how high a level he'll be able to play at. He's not huge, he's thick. He's more of a road grader type. I think it just remains to be seen how he develops. I'd like to see him with quicker feet and to be a little more athletic."

Taylor didn't have any notes with him, and he was busy studying the 200 or so athletes who showed up for the Scout combine. But a few other top players popped into his mind as he spoke.

"Kyle Prater is as good a receiver as there is. One of the kids I really like is the Garoppolo kid (Jim) over at Rolling Meadows. He plays quarterback, but I think he's an athlete who could play safety or linebacker. I really like him.

"I like the two kids at Lane Tech. I think (Laken) Tomlinson is a sleeper because right now he's a big kid with good feet. I think he's still kind of growing into his body.

"They play Louis Trinca-Pasat out of position. He's playing receiver and linebacker, but I really think he's a guy that's gonna put his hand on the ground and be a defensive end. But he's a good athlete."

Taylor also mentioned three Chicago area players who have not shown much interest in Illinois to this point.

"(Christian) Lombard (Fremd) who's going to Notre Dame is obviously a very good football player. I really like the tight end (C.J.) Fiedorowicz (Johnsburg). The only thing about him is that he's so skilled, it's too easy for him. He's so productive anyway, but he could be more productive. I think when he gets to play with guys that will challenge him more and at a higher level, he'll be even better. He's got so many tools.

"The kid at Loyola (Chance Carter) is a great looking kid. He's a guy you're gonna have to find a spot for because he's not a fast twitch guy. He's an athlete and can run and do some things, but he's not one of those guys that's so quick off the ball. So he's a little bit of a question mark in some ways."

Talk turned to Davaris Daniels, the upcoming junior from Vernon Hills and son of Washington Redskins' defensive end Phillip Daniels. Davaris visited the combine and drew a great deal of attention.

"First of all, he's a great looking kid with the bloodlines." Taylor stated. "His dad's an NFL guy. And he's young, he's still a sophomore. When you put a body like his with some athleticism and bloodlines, there's not much that can screw it up. He's definitely gonna be one of the top 2011 kids."

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