HUNTINGTON, W.Va.—Jeremiah Taylor’s career at Marshall started with one more chance. Taylor initially turned down an offer to come play for The Herd instead opting to go to work after high school. But he could never get football out of his mind and when decided he wanted to give college football a shot several years later, he was given the opportunity to walk-on.
Now, he’s getting one more chance. However, this time to end it is a chance to end his career on the field instead of the sidelines.
Taylor’s role transitioned from on-field captain to player-coach, when he suffered a back injury during the Ohio game on September 14. Since then the senior has had to watch his teammates from the sidelines but that does not mean he has been absent from the team. Taylor has spent his time waiting for the injury to heal by mentoring younger such as Gary Thompson while hoping for one more shot to suit up for The Herd.
“He’s been a coach out there at practice for as long as he’s been out with injury,” said coach Doc Holliday. “He never missed a practice and never missed a meeting. He never missed a trip, hotel or meal. He was out there the entire time. He was signaling our defense into defense.”
Taylor received the got the green light from doctors two weeks ago when they decided that his condition had improved enough to give the comeback a shot.
“I couldn’t really describe what it felt like to hear the words that you get to play in one more game,” said Taylor.
Just because he’d been cleared by doctors didn’t mean Taylor was ready to lace up his cleats and rush the quarterback. Just getting on the treadmill was painful.
“It was rough, I’m not going to lie. But just thinking about having one more opportunity, being tired just leaves your mind,” said Taylor.
The weight room wasn’t much kinder to Taylor who started lifting again last week.
“I got tired quick, my body fatigued but you mind pushes that away.”
Over the last few months Taylor has been able to lean on his family and teammates for support as his football career remained in limbo. At home, his wife Nakita and their two young children helped Taylor deal with the possibility that his days on the field may have been over.
“She had my back from day one,” he said of wife Nakita. “She’s my biggest supporter. I really needed it at that time because, football, I’ve been doing this for four years. To have that support and to keep my head held high, that really helped.”
In the lockerroom, teammate James Rouse probably had the best perspective from which to offer Taylor advice. Rouse missed two full seasons with injury and certainly understood what Taylor was dealing with.
“He was telling me the things he went through,” said Taylor. “Just keep your mind focused on one day at a time and everything will come through in time. “
Taylor got a chance as a 300-pound walk-on tackle four years ago. He made the most of the opportunity. He made the team, got in shape, earned playing time, earned a scholarship and his degree.
Now, Taylor gets one more chance, to finish his career at Marshall on the field.