January 06, 2012

Taylor-made D

While they were being recruited out of Mesquite (TX) HS during the 2008-09 recruiting season, Darius Taylor and Darnell Taylor knew exactly what they wanted -- to remain teammates for four more seasons. Splitting up wasn't even an option for the twin brothers, and any coaches who made their way to the suburban Dallas school found out the Taylors were a package deal -- if you wanted one, you had to take the other one too. It's understandable that they would want to stay together (after all, twins are meant to be together), but such a demand severely limited the number of their scholarship offers. So instead of playing at FBS schools, Darnell and Darius ended up in the FCS at Sam Houston State, located in Huntsville, about three fourths of the way from Dallas to Houston down Insterstate 45. And they're glad they did.

Now, three years later, it would not be accurate to say that SHSU's defense is entirely Taylor-made, but the twins certainly have carried their share of the load in helping the Bearkats' D to a 2nd best in the FCS total of 14.9 points allowed per game. Darnell, a junior S, was named the 2011 Southland Conference defensive player of the year and leads the team with 118 tackles (81-37). No slouch himself, Darius, a junior LB, earned honorable mention all-conference honors this season and ranks 3rd on the team in tackles with 78 (43-35). Darius leads Darnell in interceptions 2-1, but Darnell took his INT to the house, while Darius is still in search of his 1st career TD.

I'm doing this article today because the season is not yet finished for Sam Houston State. While the FBS heads toward the conclusion of its entertaining but mostly meaningless slew of bowl games, SHSU is set to play in the FCS championship game tomorrow (imagine that, an actual, honest-to-goodness, multi-round tournament where the championship is determined by the players on the field instead of by computer rankings and polls). After getting a 1st round bye, the top seeded Bearkats survived Stony Brook in round 2 and whipped Montana State in the quarterfinals. Then in the semifinals the Bearkats jumped out to a 21-0 lead only to find themselves hanging on for dear life when Montana closed to within 31-28 in the 4th quarter. On one of the biggest plays in the game, the Taylors were beaten deep on 3rd and 11 while trying to double-cover WR Jabin Sambrano, but the gusting winds caused the pass to be underthrown and incomplete. Montana punted on the next play and never got the ball again as the SHSU offense, led by sensational RB Tim Flanders (who reminds me of Barry Sanders the way he runs), made 3 first downs to kill the final 6 minutes off the clock.

Darnell (#38) and Darius may have the same face and the same height (6-foot-1), but on the field it's not too hard to tell them apart. At 240 pounds, Darius outweighs his brother by 40 pounds, and, of course, has the longer dreads. Click on the link below for the entire article on the Taylors from the SHSU website. And tomorrow, before the NFL playoffs begins, you can catch them in action as the Bearkats (14-0) take on Marcus Williams, Sam Ojuri, and the #2 seeded North Dakota State Bison (13-1) for the championship (12 noon CT, ESPN2).



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