Frank Taylor had numerous options. Brandon Peoples didn't need 'em.
Those contrasting plotlines surfaced yesterday in the (thank goodness!) air-conditioned auditorium at Archbishop Wood High in Warminster, as two more rising-senior football stars announced their college decisions.
According to coach Steve Devlin, the 6-4, 290-pound Taylor (Boston College, lineman) received roughly 20 Division I-A offers and another 10 from I-AAs. The 5-10, 190-pound Peoples (Temple, running back), he added, was generating interest from Connecticut, but, as Brandon later acknowledged, he wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to the Huskies' come-ons, or anyone else's.
Isn't it nice when everything falls neatly into place?
For unofficial visits and/or camps and/or Junior Days, Taylor trekked to biggies such as Michigan State, Rutgers, Pitt, Notre Dame and BC, but his final decision came down to the last of those and another school you'd never guess . . . Harvard.
You see, Taylor maintains a 4.0 grade-point average and as he noted during his portion of the news conference - Peoples had gone first - it was pretty cool to be pursued by the world's greatest academic institution.
If Harvard wants to upgrade its program over the next 15 months, perhaps Taylor will change his mind. But for now, his mind is set on the school roughly 4 miles away.
"It was very tough to turn down a school like Harvard," Taylor said. "But I just feel as though I need to fulfill my dream of playing big-time football."
Taylor's dad, Fran, added that BC made a major impression on his son, and the family in general, because it was the only school to lay out a specific plan.
That is: a move to a brand-new position.
"They really need a center," Taylor said. "If I'm ready to come in there and play, they'll play me right away. If I'm not, they'll redshirt me and then try to get me on the field as quickly as possible."
During his stay at BC, Taylor interacted with lineman Seth Betancourt, a product of St. Joseph's Prep.
"He showed me around," Taylor said. "I remember one thing I asked him was, if he could make his choice all over again, would he still pick BC? He said he would. I liked that."
Peoples is the second member of his family to announce a decision. His first cousin, senior rusher Desmon Peoples (Rutgers), got the news-conference ball rolling in late April, and tight end Colin Thompson (Florida) followed suit in early May.
Devlin strongly feels four more Vikings could wind up with at least I-AA rides: lineman Brandon Arcidiacono, defensive backs Nate Smith (he played last fall for George Washington) and Kyle Adkins, and quarterback Joey Monaghan.
So far, of course, the local, Deep South and New England regions have been covered.
Brandon Peoples, who played at Abington through the 10th grade, entered an immediate comfort zone once he became familiar with Temple's new coach, Steve Addazio, and some key assistants.
"They've always been at the top of my list," Peoples said. "I feel like it's a good place to be. I like strong men around me, people who can be like my dad [Charlie, a former star at Abraham Lincoln and Indiana, Pa.]. I feel like coach Addazio can turn me into a better man.
"I was always a fan of Temple because they're my hometown team, though I never knew I'd be playing for them."
Peoples then mentioned something that happened 2 years ago, and how it caused his inner fires to burn. Which they still do.
"One of the coaches told me I was too small to play running back," he said, evenly. "He also said I'd never play Division I. That's been in my head ever since. When I came here to Wood, I got the necessary support. And I'm thankful for that." *