On July 14, 2007, Tyrod Taylor stole the headlines for the last time as a high school athlete.
"Going out in style," the Daily Press sports section read that day.
The night before, Taylor put the final touches on a virtuoso prep career for Hampton, throwing for 174 yards and two touchdowns — including a 65-yard TD — and earning offensive MVP honors to lead the East to a victory in the Virginia High School Coaches Association all-star game.
"It was great to go out on a night like this," Taylor said.
It was one of countless highlights for Taylor, a running and passing threat who was only the fourth repeat winner (2005-06, '06-07) since the Daily Press began naming Athletes of the Year in 1987.
Taylor is No. 3 in our countdown of the best high school athletes of the decade. The No. 2 athlete (based on their accomplishments in high school) will be named Saturday (since we do not publish on Christmas Day). The No. 1 athlete will be named Sunday.
Playing in just 15 of Hampton's 26 basketball games as a senior, Taylor averaged 17.1 points as a shooting guard. In Taylor's three years as a basketball starter, the Crabbers went 54-24 and made the regional playoffs each time.
But it was Darling Stadium that was his cathedral.
As a senior, he accounted for 2,326 yards and 36 touchdowns. He was named a Parade All-American, played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, participated in the Nike Elite 11 quarterback camp and was one of just five quarterbacks nationally given a five-star rating by rivals.com.
He contributed 7,912 yards of offense and 48 touchdowns in his career. In Taylor's three years as starter, Hampton went 34-4 and was the Group AAA Division 5 champion in 2005.
"He's a good guy to have around," Hampton football coach Mike Smith said in a grand understatement.
And he's a good guy to have around for Virginia Tech, too.
Taylor combined for 187 yards of offense and a touchdown in January, leading the Hokies over Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl and snapping Virginia Tech's four-game losing streak in Bowl Championship Series games.
Taylor and the Hokies, once ranked No. 4 this season, await a Dec. 31 matchup with Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.
About the series This week, the Daily Press names the top five high school stars of the decade.No. 5 Yvette LewisNo. 4 Jontel EvansNo. 3 Tyrod TaylorNo. 2 TBA SaturdayNo. 1 TBA SundayCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times