In June of 2009 coaches from Dayton, Ohio and other area schools held a big-man skill camp at Welcome Stadium to help offensive and defensive linemen develop more skills.
It was on this day I got my first look at Taylor Decker a junior to be out of Vandalia (Ohio) Butler High School.
At the time, Derek Shellabarger coached at Butler and from the start of the day talked about this kid he felt could develop into a high-level prospect.
At the time, Taylor Decker was being shared between football and basketball and it was easy to see why with Decker being 6-foot-7 inches tall.
While most saw a skinny 245-pound baby faced kid with long arms, I saw a future prospect with an extremely bright future if he would buy into picking football over basketball.
Stressing he’d need to add bulk and strength over time and watching Decker in drills showed me a player with great feet and body control.
In my projection I felt Decker could add another 30-pounds before having to head off to college. I didn’t see him adding 70-pounds prior to National Signing Day but that is what he did.
Over the course of his junior and senior years, Decker continued to develop into one of the top prospects in the country.
A verbal pledge to Notre Dame in the spring of his junior year to Brian Kelly and assistant coaches Tim Hinton and Ed Warinner, had Irish fans excited about Decker joining the Irish program in South Bend.
While Decker had dreamed of being an Ohio State Buckeye, coaches in Columbus failed to show the interest many expected. In fact, talk in recruiting circles was a member of the Buckeyes coaching staff felt Decker was too tall to be a high-level offensive lineman.
That changed midway through Decker’s senior year when the Buckeyes hired Urban Meyer as their new head coach.
Meyer turned his sights on Decker and when he followed by hiring Hinton and Warinner away from the Irish, things turned quickly. Having been raised with a strong support system Decker looked to stay loyal to the Irish. However, he knew deep down he wanted to become a Buckeye and gave Meyer a key clog in his first recruiting class in January of 2012.
Things turned out great for Decker as he was a key part of the Buckeyes National Championship season, earned All-Big Ten honors and consensus All-American honors.
Following his college career Decker was selected in the 2016 NFL Draft in the first round with the 16-th overall pick by the Detroit Lions signing a fully guaranteed four-year $10.96 million contract with a signing bonus of $6.17 million. In his rookie year, Decker was named the Lions Rookie of the Year by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association and made the Pro Football Writers Association (PFWA) All-Rookie Team after starting all 16 games. An injury (torn labrum) in the spring prior to his second season saw Decker miss time during the 2017 season. This past season saw Decker start and play in all 16 of the Lions games.
The following video was shot during Decker’s senior year (2011) in a match-up against Springboro. In some of the clips, Decker (White #68) is going against Springboro lineman Sean Welsh (Blue #79) who would go on to an All-Big Ten Conference career at Iowa.