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Brother Rice's Aristotle Taylor goes from competitive gaming to Stanford football after one season

Aristotle Taylor Brother Rice
Posted at 9:20 PM, Mar 03, 2021

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. — Aristotle Taylor is a 6-foot-9, 235 lb. defensive end who commanded attention from Power 5 coaches, Ivy League programs, and everywhere in between.

10 months ago, he had never played high school football.

Taylor is heading to Stanford, recently signing his commitment to the school inside the Brother Rice High School media center.

"It's surreal. It's going to take a while for this to sink in," he told 7 Action News.

Taylor’s high school journey began by watching his brothers play football. He went from watching and wondering for three years at Brother Rice, to finally signing up to be the team manager his senior year. He lasted one day in that role before he asked for pads.

A path to football success makes sense as the family looks back on it all, but it wasn't so easy getting here.

Before his time at Brother Rice started, his experience commenced with grief. His father Ken died when Aristotle was in eighth grade.

"His dad was like Magic Johnson. He'd walk into a room, and the room would light up," Aristotle's grandfather, Larry Dressell, said.

Sports became an afterthought for Aristotle after his father's death. He played on the freshman basketball team, but soon put his attention on competitive gaming.

"What he wanted to do was game," his mother, Erin K. Taylor said. "After his father passed, he hunkered down and got into Fortnite. Every single man I spoke to said, 'Leave him alone. He's figuring it out. Leave him alone.'"

Taylor played for 8-12 hours per day. His mother said he built his own gaming computer at the age of 14. Anything Aristotle put his mind toward, he thrived. His competitive nature attacked anything in sight.

"Some people think, 'It's just gaming.' No," he said. "Practicing, repetition: it's definitely serious."

His grades started to climb. Taylor's GPA went from a 3.4 to a 3.7. His attention to detail in gaming wasn't an accident. The young man's brilliance was pouring out into anything he touched.

Football was always there, lingering as an option.

Brother Rice head coach Adam Korzeniewski saw the big frame, and knew Taylor's family history in the sport. Aristotle always had interest in the game, after watching his brothers play. His grandfather played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I remember sitting in the stands, going up and talking to his mother and grandfather when he was a freshman basketball player. We all agreed, 'Let's try to get him out,'" Korzeniewski recalled.

During the pandemic, Taylor found the weight room. His body transformed in a way that can only be compared to watching Steve Rogers become Captain America in the blink of an eye. Except this was another passion project for the teenager. He shot from 202 lbs. to 243 lbs.

"I was thinking, '10 years down the road, what would I think of myself if I didn't try it out?'" Taylor recalled.

Korzeniewski left the door open for years. He asked him each year to come out to the team, but as Aristotle rebuffed his offers, Korzeniewski vowed to treat him with kindness and a welcoming attitude. Taylor said he felt support from the coach throughout his time at Rice.

So ahead of his senior year, working out like a mad man, Aristotle signed up to be the team manager.

He lasted one day in the role.

"When he told me he was going to be manager, I just started laughing. I knew the coach was not going to let that kid walk onto the field with water," Dressell laughed.

Grandpa knew what he was talking about.

"I can tell you, the first day, we were running a pass-protection drill," Korzeniewski said. "Our defensive coordinator and offensive line coach said they couldn't stop Aristotle."

Taylor quickly became one of Brother Rice's most impactful players.

When the season ended, the phone didn't stop ringing. Aristotle received calls. Korzeniewski was on vacation, and said he spent most of his time talking to college coaches interested in Taylor.

He chose between opportunities at Michigan, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Yale, and other top programs. He chose Stanford.

Aristotle's GPA has continued to climb. He's at a 4.2 GPA in his senior year.

"I feel extremely confident I chose the school that's going to help prepare me for greatness on and off the field," Taylor said.

It's cliché to think this is one impressive story. Taylor's life is filled with a handful of generational stories, and he vows he's just getting started.

Not bad for a kid who played just one year of high school football.