Photo: Connor McCourtney
When Dain Taylor steps on a football field, everyone’s job gets easier. Well, everyone on his team, that is. Preparing for the Dain Taylor effect is not a simple task for opposing teams.
“Dain is a guy where we go out there and we’re like ‘Well, hey, we’ve got Dain Taylor,’” Drake head football coach Chris Creighton said. “We knew we had the best player on the field.”
Becoming the best player on the field for any given game wasn’t a short road for the fifth-year senior Taylor.
“The reason I started playing was because I would see my dad cheering on the (Denver) Broncos, and I was like, ‘Man I want to be like that,’” Taylor said. “As a little kid, I was playing soccer and baseball and other sports, but football was my dad’s favorite so I gravitated toward it.”
The Colorado native had a hard time being recruited to play at the next level. He received several Division II offers, but Drake was the only Division I-A FCS school that made him feel wanted.
“I knew I wanted to play football in college, but it was tough getting recruited out of my high school,” Taylor said. “I had a few D-II looks, but nobody was really looking. Drake somehow got my film by watching another player and flew out to see me. I just loved how interested they were, and I was like, ‘These guys want me, I want to play college football, I’m going there.’”
Good thing for that tape. Taylor hit the Drake campus in 2006 as a 6-foot-2, 200-pound freshman. Right now, Taylor stands at 6-foot-3 and 251 pounds, and that isn’t all that Taylor gained in college.
In 2008, Taylor received second-team All-Pioneer Football League honors and scored his first career touchdown against William Penn. In 2009, Taylor was named to the All-Pioneer Football League first team, and finished the season third in the Division I-AA in tackles for loss and sixth in the nation in sacks.
Taylor had many awards and accomplishments in 2010, including being named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press.
“Going into the Dayton game (last November), they were a team where I was looking for some redemption from last year (2009),” Taylor said. “We lost to them, and the quarterback kept getting away from me. He was just out of my reach. In 2010, I got up in front of the whole team and said, ‘I’m going to catch this dude this year.’”
Taylor wasn’t lying. In that game, he had a career-high 12 tackles, including 3.5 sacks and a safety, and added a blocked field goal attempt, earning him PFL Defensive Player of the Week.
Taylor’s good friend and teammate on the defensive line Andrew Asbell noticed Taylor’s constant improvement during their five years together.
“Dain has improved in all aspects,” Asbell said. “He was always trying to improve his technique. By his fifth year, it was pretty much just all instinct for him, and he could just step on the field, zone out and play.”
Next season Drake will have new football captains, new players on the defensive line, new senior leaders, but no new Dain Taylor. Taylor will never be replaced, but his legacy will live on.
“He was a special player,” Creighton said. “When you’re losing a special player like that, it’s going to take the team as a whole to make up for it. One player isn’t going to be able to come in right away and fill his shoes.”
Taylor said what he has learned in his five years playing football for Drake will stay with him for life.
“There is a lot to take away,” Taylor said. “I would say the leadership aspect (is the most important). That’s not just being voted captain, we also have leadership meetings that we do with coach Creighton, and just being side-by-side with people and being able to work with other people to achieve a common goal, whether you’re playing football or in the real world, all of that is always there.”
Maybe someday playing football will be the real world for Taylor. Taylor participated in a pro-day for NFL scouts at Iowa State on March 22 and had a workout with the Jacksonville Jaguars on April 4. He even has an agent, Matt Striegel, from Ascent Sports in Colorado. Taylor will be waiting anxiously this weekend to see if an NFL team decides to take him in the draft.