Another Miami Hurricanes underclassman is turning pro and will declare for the 2024 NFL Draft.
University of Miami third-year junior defensive tackle Leonard Taylor III posted late Thursday night an Instagram story of his signing with rapper Dwayne ‘Lil Wayne’ Carter’s sports agency Young Money APAA Sports, and has on his social media profile of X (formerly known as Twitter) that he is a “Professional Athlete.’’
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Sr. on Nov. 24 had Taylor as his No. 3 defensive tackle prospect for the 2024 draft that begins April 25.
The 6-4, 296-pound Taylor was a five-star recruit in the freshman class of 2021, but Taylor had an underwhelming season, finishing 2023 with 19 tackles, 3 1/2 tackles for loss, one sack and one quarterback hurry. He was rated the nation’s top defensive tackle and No. 1 player in Florida by 247Sports when he graduated from Miami Palmetto High. But he admittedly wasn’t in as good shape as he could have been during his career and sometimes, again admittedly, took off plays because he was winded.
Taylor told reporters in August that UM coaches told him, with his mother sitting in the room, that he needed to work “harder in practice’’ and “grind in the classroom.’’ He also said he had a “personal chef’’ to help him manage his weight. “My own personal chef that makes me prep meals before practice, after practice, for dinners and all that.’’
Taylor finishes his UM career with 64 tackles, six sacks, 21 1/2 tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries and one interception.
This season, Taylor started the first 10 games, but had an undisclosed injury and didn’t play the last two games against Louisville and Boston College.
On Tuesday night, Taylor posted on X, “I gave my all,’’ accompanied by a 100 emoji and eagle emoji, with “#GoCanes” at the end. But he never made a formal announcement that he was entering the draft.
Taylor will likely become the second, and possibly third, Hurricane to declare for the draft. All three play on defense and are from South Florida, including safety Kamren Kinchens, who has indicated he plans to turn pro, according to sources — and possibly safety James Williams.
Williams, who also was a five-star prospect in the recruiting class of 2021, is in the process of making a decision regarding entering the draft, his marketing agent, Eric Dounn of LAA Sports & Entertainment, indicated late Tuesday morning on the social media platform X. The recruiting site 247Sports reported that Williams was expected to declare for the draft, and Herald sources said that was the UM program’s expectation as well. Dounn, however, said that “James Williams has not announced yet... He is weighing ALL options... Let’s wait to hear from him when he’s ready.’’