Fifteen years and a few inches in height separate the two brothers but Noah plays the same position as Jason on the defensive line at defensive end. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder finished his college career at Division II California University of Pennsylvania after beginning at Youngstown State and got in front of NFL eyes last weekend in Baltimore at the final NFL Regional Combine.
“I didn’t take the traditional route of going to a big school and all of that jazz that goes with that,” Noah Taylor told The Finsiders. “But there are some guys from big schools that think just because they went to a Big Ten or SEC or ACC school all they have to do is walk in and the scouts will be all over them. One thing that I definitely think I bring to the table is hard work and leadership and leading by example and never being a problem on or off the field. … I think me being a more well-rounded individual will get me further.”
Being the brother of a future Hall-of-Famer comes with its challenges, most obvious among them is constantly being compared to the Dolphins’ all-time sack leader with 139.5. Noah is proud of Jason and proud of his last name and he also makes no apologies for being able to lean on his older brother as a mentor.
For Jason, he remembers what it was like going through the pre-draft process coming out of the University of Akron in 1997. He ended up being taken in the third round by then-Dolphins Head Coach Jimmy Johnson and quickly established himself as a pass rushing force. Jason retired from football at the end of the 2011 season and is far enough removed from the game to enjoy watching Noah take his shot.
“I’m really proud of him. I have always encouraged him to be his own guy and he’s done a great job of that,” said Jason, who played all but two of his 15 NFL seasons in Miami. “Noah is a good, hard worker who is very capable, extremely focused on his goals and takes the game and the preparation necessary to excel at it very seriously.”
Untimely injuries during his senior year of high school at Woodlawn Hills in Pittsburgh – also his brother’s alma mater – and then in his second year at California (Pa.) put Noah behind his peers. It was a hairline fracture of his ankle in high school that scared off potential college suitors and a torn ACL in college that limited his playing time.
Noah’s work ethic and commitment never were questioned and he even sacrificed a little his senior year by moving inside to play defensive tackle because the team needed him there. He got his weight up to 260 pounds in order to be able to handle the pounding and then trimmed down again. To prepare for the Baltimore workout, Noah trained near Jason’s home in Weston with former Dolphins running back Terry Kirby and strength coach John Gamble in hopes of earning an invite to the Super Regional Combine next weekend in Detroit.
“It’s a different kind of training getting ready for these combines and workouts. It’s not really the same thing as getting ready for the football season,” said Noah, who at the age of 24 is a little bit older than some of the other incoming rookies. “It’s getting you strong but it’s getting you strong for those specific drills and activities, so hopefully after all this stuff settles down I’ll be able to get back to more of the football conditioning and the football strength so that way when the season comes around I’m ready to hit the ground running.”
Should Noah do enough to earn a contract or a tryout with an NFL team he’ll be able to look back at the hard work he put in, as well as the path his older brother blazed for him and proudly carry the torch. He knows the pressures that come with his last name, but he also knows the possibilities that lie ahead for him to carve out his own legacy.
“You know it’s not really too bad a shoes to be walking in,” Noah said. “But at the same time you kind of want to make your own identity and it’s hard. It’s one of those things that you’re always going to have to deal with. I mean Eli Manning, even when he was coming out he was looked at as Peyton Manning’s little brother and he eventually had to start making his own name and it’s rough. But it’s not that bad. It’s something where you want to separate yourself but at the same time stay pretty close to it.
“Ever since as far back as I can remember I’ve been in football stadiums watching him play. I believe from when I was little we only missed one of Jason’s college games and I’ve been down to the Dolphins’ practice facility and to a whole lot of Dolphins games throughout his career. He’s a great role model, a great mentor and it’s always good to have him around to pick his brain because that’s somebody’s brain you want to be picking all the time.”