Marty Graham 5:30 p.m., Jan. 19
Wolverines star one of the country’s highest-ranked tight ends
TORREY HIGHLANDS – Taylor McNamara is a big tight end and a huge college prospect. The Westview senior’s size and skill make him a dynamic option for the undefeated Wolverines, and one of the most prized tight ends in the nation.
“It’s a size factor, but it’s also the work ethic,” said Westview head coach Mike Woodward. “He’s honed his skills and perfected his game.”
At 6 feet 5 inches tall and 240 pounds, McNamara presents a challenge for opposing defenses. He is averaging 17.8 yards per catch and has hauled in five touchdown passes this season from different spots on the field, spending time on the line, in the slot, and split out wide.
“He’s got huge hands and great hands — they’re not just big, they can catch the ball well,” Woodward said. “He’s the complete package for us.”
McNamara also plays on the Wolverines’ defensive line and could see some action at fullback later in the season. Woodward said that by season’s end McNamara could see significant time at eight different positions.
“He’s a really knowledgeable player and he likes to change it up,” Woodward said. “I think he enjoys the different positions, moving around and trying to use his talents in different spots besides just the old fashioned hand-down tight end.”
Though he played five years of youth football, McNamara never lined up at tight end before his freshman year at Westview — instead lining up at offensive line and outside linebacker. What he enjoys most about the tight end position is the balance between blocking and receiving.
“It really is the best of both worlds because you can kind of have a unity with the linemen while still getting some glory and getting some recognition,” McNamara said.
Currently ranked as the second-best tight end in the nation by recruiting service Rivals, McNamara began to garner national attention following his junior year when he went on the Rock Tour coordinated by local quarterback trainer George Whitfield. During the 10-day camp that toured 11 East Coast schools, McNamara received scholarship offers from five of them, including Ohio State and Florida State.
“Taylor was one of the first non-quarterbacks to go on that tour,” Woodward said. “He went out there healthy, and he was running routes against other top-notch athletes and they loved him. From there it just took off.”
By the summer, McNamara had his choice of the nation’s elite college football programs. He verbally committed to Arizona in June, and still has official visits to Colorado, California, and Notre Dame planned in the coming months.
“I fell in love with the school and then when I went down there I realized that I could really see myself down there and everything fits in,” McNamara said.
While McNamara’s size has made him attractive to colleges around the nation, it wasn’t always his strong suit. After his sophomore year, McNamara was two inches shorter and 70 pounds lighter.
“My coach told me when I was a sophomore that if I put on weight and add 20 pounds that I could be a Division I player,” McNamara said. “As soon as I heard that it kind of stuck in my head and I decided to take advantage of that.”
McNamara began lifting weights before, during, and after school that winter. The lifting was as much of a challenge for McNamara as a protein-heavy diet, for which a typical lunch included four sandwiches as the main course.
“I was eating more than what’s healthy — healthy foods, but unhealthy amounts of those foods,” McNamara said. “I was just pounding food for two or three months and I put on a lot of good weight.”
Westview has been throwing its weight around this season, shutting out three of its four opponents and winning by an average 31 points per game. The unbeaten Wolverines play at El Camino (1-2) on Friday night.
“The way we put together the schedule this year has been kind of smart. We have easier teams to start the year, and we build up confidence and we believe we’re legit,” McNamara said. “El Camino is our first test for sure.”
Pictured: Westview senior Taylor McNamara rushes the quarterback during a Westview practice
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