GJ’s Owen Taylor commits to play baseball at Kansas
Three years ago, before entering the ninth grade, Owen Taylor committed to playing baseball as his lone athletic endeavor.
No more football or basketball, sports he played through middle school. Baseball was his love, and he was going to pursue it with purpose.
“No other sport catches my attention like baseball does,” Taylor said Wednesday evening after finishing practice with the Gene Taylor’s American Legion baseball team.
For that matter, “Nothing in my life catches my attention like baseball does,” said the hard-hitting shortstop who just completed his junior season at Grand Junction High School with a .483 batting average, 12 extra-base hits that included four home runs, an .862 slugging percentage and 31 runs batted in, all team highs.
And his commitment to the sport yielded another commitment this week: Taylor verbally committed to the University of Kansas, which offered him a scholarship Feb. 2 during his visit to the school.
“Baseball has always been a big thing in my family. It’s the love of my life,” said Taylor, whose grandfather, Gene Taylor, is the namesake of the legion team. “I want to play it until I’m 40.”
First, he has a senior season at Grand Junction to play, and he said it will be good to go through it without wondering where he’s going next.
“Just the past few days after making my decision, I’ve felt so much relief,” said Taylor, who notified Kansas on Monday.
Kansas made sense in so many ways, Taylor didn’t need to prolong the decision.
For one, it’s an NCAA Division I program in a great baseball conference, the Big 12, and Kansas finished runner-up to Oklahoma in the recently completed Big 12 Tournament.
Second, his visit in February could not have gone better. He said he loved the coaching staff, and the fact the coaches were switch hitters appealed to Taylor, a switch hitter who wants to take that ability to another level.
And finally, other programs such as Santa Clara and New Mexico expressed interest in him, but Taylor’s instincts told him to go with Kansas, and do it now.
“They want me there,” he said. “I just feel it’s the right fit for me.”
The Jayhawks made him an excellent offer, he said, and one of his baseball mentors told him the early offer from the school is significant, and he respected that.
“I wanted to be the first-flight guy, and not (another school’s) Plan B,” Taylor said.
Kansas plans to play him at one of the infield corners, first or third base, Taylor said, but he’s been a middle infielder and wants to remain there if he can. To do so, he said, will require improving his foot speed, so he will jump rope and do agility drills with the middle infield at Kansas as his mission. If that doesn’t work out, he’s good with wherever the Jayhawks put him.
True to his passion for baseball, Taylor said, “I just want to play.”