That love, he said, has never wavered, even through the frustration of an injury-plagued rookie season. Actually, it’s that love of the game that made it so difficult to accept not being able to perform the way he has come to expect.
It was so difficult to accept, actually, that when Taylor discussed his rookie season for a story in the Idaho Statesman, he actually said there were times he didn’t want to play anymore.
Make no mistake, though, Taylor still wants to play. More than that, he wants to excel. He wants to be the player the Dolphins saw when they selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft, the player who earned first-team All-Mountain West Conerence honors during his senior year in college.
Taylor started looking like that player during the offseason program, and he intends on continuing on that path.
“It’s getting there,” Taylor said after an offseason practice. “He’s definitely coming back out, that person y’all saw talking a lot of stuff, it’s getting there. But I’ve got to crawl before I can walk. I’m just out here trying to pick these older guys’ brains and just continue to try to get better.”
After sports hernia surgery knocked him out of OTAs and the minicamp last spring, Taylor not only was able to participate this offseason, he impressed.
“I’m definitely more comfortable with the playbook,” Taylor said. “I’m more comfortable with myself, just knowing I’m going out there injury-free. I fly around, I know the calls, just trying to make plays and just take the coaching. It’s definitely a big difference from year one to year two.”
Along with his work at cornerback, Taylor also got practice time at the nickel spot.
Through it all, he earned kudos from defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, who said he saw Taylor getting more confident with each passing practice. Taylor also spent a lot of time working with Finnegan, who came away impressed.
Asked what he saw from Taylor in the spring, Finnegan replied: “Everything. His attention to detail in the classroom. We stay after. He wants to be great, so if we could make those guys better, it helps this football team.”
Taylor’s ability never really has been in question. He just never got a chance to show it during his rookie season.
It made for what Taylor called a “humbling” experience. Just being able to fully participate in the offseason conditioning program this year was a great first step in the right direction.
“I’m blessed,” he said. “That’s the only word to describe it. When you’re at your low, the only way to go is up. It was humbling, very humbling, especially coming out (when) you do so much in college and you come and you see like, ‘Man, this is the real deal,’ and you’re kinda one step behind. You can’t be one step behind. These guys out here, it’s like an all-star team. So very humbling, but I’m blessed. I’m still here, blessed enough to play on this team. I’m ready to roll and try to help out.”
Again, does this sound like a guy who would ever quit football?
The first time he spoke to reporters in the spring, Taylor was ready for a question about his comments. He never denied making the comment, but rather offered perspective.
“I think it’s more of a saying,” Taylor said. “I would never quit football, you know what I’m saying. Make sure y’all put that in: I would never quit. I’ve been playing since I was 5 years old. Never in my life would I quit. But you get that kinda like, ‘Dang,’ like that kind of doubt. This was just one of those things where it kind of came and my agent, my dad and them were like, ‘Hey, man, you trippin’. I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m trippin’. It’s one of those things.
“But I would never quit, though. They’re going to have to take me off out on a stretcher for me to ever quit.”
There was one comment in that story in the Idaho Statesman that Taylor clearly wants to see materialize, the one where Taylor said about the 2014 season, “I’m going to turn a lot of heads.”
Taylor is doing everything he can to make sure that happens, including soaking up all the advice he can from Grimes and Finnegan.
“Being with BG for two years, that dude is a freak athlete,” Taylor said. “He’s been through some stuff, so he can kind of teach you and walk you through everything. The same with Cortland. He’s been at his high end and his low, so when you get two guys like that of that caliber to come out here and want to teach you and want to help you out you ask questions, for a young guy like me it’s a blessing.
“I just plan on staying healthy, competing my butt off, learning from the older guys and contributing the best way I can. If it’s starting, then I’m all for it. If it’s coming in as a role player, I’m all for that. Whatever the team needs so we can get to the playoffs and I can get to a Super Bowl.”