Former San Francisco prep star Grandville Taylor chasing NFL dream 

click to enlarge Arizona State’s Grandville Taylor, who played at Washington High School in San Francisco, is hoping to keep his playing career going in the NFL. - RICK SCUTERI/2013 AP FILE PHOTO
  • Rick Scuteri/2013 AP file photo
  • Arizona State’s Grandville Taylor, who played at Washington High School in San Francisco, is hoping to keep his playing career going in the NFL.

As an athlete, it's often tough to get noticed in the San Francisco public-school league: the Academic Athletic Association.

Football often is played in the afternoon in front of sparse crowds. As far as hopes of making a Division I roster, you're basically on your own. College recruiters rarely make appearances to AAA sporting events.

Just ask Grandville Taylor.

Taylor, who graduated from Washington High School in 2009 -- earning first-team All-City honors as a linebacker his junior and senior years -- didn't receive a single scholarship offer.

Now? He's training six hours a day in hopes of being selected in this week's NFL Draft.

Despite the opportunities to play at a local community college, Taylor enrolled at Arizona State and set his sights on making the Sun Devils football team.

Long odds? Sure, but that negative connotation didn't deter Taylor. Instead, he worked until he got noticed by Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson.

The 6-foot, 225-pound middle linebacker not only made the team, but after spending his redshirt year in 2009 on the scout team, he continued to gain respect in the Sun Devils' program by earning the Hard Hat award for his intensity in the weight room as a redshirt freshman in 2010.

"I had to pretty much work from the ground up to make a name for myself," said Taylor, who took part in the 49ers' local pro day in April. "I stayed consistent, kept my head on straight. To make the team is something I set out for, and when I found out I made the team, it was a humble feeling and reminded me that hard work does pay off."

Playing at Arizona State as a walk-on had its difficulties. Taylor -- who graduated in December -- struggled with playing in Arizona, a state in which he knew no one. Due to the rigorous schedule, and considering the lack of funds he had available for himself, he considered walking away from the program.

While volunteering at a local Boys & Girls Club in the Phoenix area, he learned a quote that carried him through the struggle.

"'People normally quit before they do something great,'" Taylor recited. "That quote stuck to me. I'm hard-headed and that never quit attitude, I've always had it."

That attitude was rewarded when coach Todd Graham took over the Arizona State program. In 2012, Graham awarded Taylor, a junior, with a full scholarship, something not many student-athletes from the AAA can boast about.

"It was a great feeling, it was like, 'I did it,'" Taylor said. "No one can take away the work that I did, and to see myself rewarded, it just made me hungrier for success."

On the field, Taylor was a special teams ace and appeared in 48 career games, including all 14 this past season. But he doesn't have gaudy numbers (36 career tackles, three fumble recoveries and an interception) that will catch NFL scouts eyes.

His best performance in a Sun Devils uniform came in The City. In the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, the three-time honorable-mention academic All-Pac 12 Conference selection racked up a career-high eight tackles.

Still, it's a long shot that the former AAA star will hear his name called during the draft. NFLDraftScout.com has Taylor ranked as the No. 70 inside linebacker prospect.

However, that hasn't swayed Taylor from working out six hours a day. He's trained in Miami, Scottsdale, Ariz., and back here in San Francisco, running at the beach with his dad. If he's not drafted, Taylor could still land a training camp invite as an undrafted free agent.

"Whatever happens this week, I feel like the best thing for me to do is stay positive," Taylor said. "I've made something and conquered a lot of my goals and dreams, I'm confident. The biggest thing is for me is to stay focused and continue to work."

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Bonta Hill

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