FOOTBALL: Noah Taylor

FOOTBALL: Noah Taylor

Sophomore, Noah Taylor,
knows that expectations are raised this year for the
football team and for himself, and he has worked to meet them. Gaining more than 30 pounds to
fill out his athletic 6 foot 5 inch frame, and fill the
role of an outside linebacker on Bronco Mendenhall’s defense. A position, he says, he loves. Well, I wanted to play
outside linebacker because I love pass rushing,
and with pass rushing, things just come easy to me. So I like pass rushing, and
I also like playing coverage, and I also like playing man. So I mean, I get a
little bit of everything in that for outside linebacker. Part of that everything was a
weight room and nutrition staff that immediately began assisting
Noah in gaining weight, speed, and strength. Coach Poppinga brings in the
tall, lanky, skinny, sometimes basketball-esque type player,
and the expectation always is, well, he needs about
20 to 30 pounds put on him. Noah came in with
exactly what you want. He was fast. He could jump. The raw athleticism was there,
but then at the same time, he was a skinny 180 pound
kid with his head spinning because he’d never experienced
anything like this before. You saw it pretty quickly that
he knew if he put on weight and that if he got
stronger– he was very passionate about
getting stronger. Would stay extra, and
do some extra work– he knew he would be up there,
and be able to compete. During the spring workouts,
I gained 15 pounds, and then my speed numbers
also all increased. I mean, that was
good to know that I don’t have to be
scared of losing weight because we’ll do things like
our running, or our circuits, that we do that will
just keep my speed up, as long as my weight. And those gains have begun
to pay dividends for Taylor in his shirt color. Just as with different
colored belts in martial arts, UVA football players wear
different colored shirts while training. Each of these colors
represent achievement of higher benchmarks while
lifting and conditioning. So he was gray. We had a plan. Me and him sat down
and talked about it, and we talked about what
he would have to do, and where I thought
it was realistic for him to make some
pretty big gains, in terms of what he
was looking like, and he went out
there testing week. Showed up, and that Friday,
we were actually calling out all the colors, and you
could see his face change when we didn’t call his
name from orange, which is the next step
after gray, and I could see the
disappointment in his face, but then when he heard
his name called for blue, it was exciting for me to see. To see how proud
he was of himself. So once I accomplish
one thing, it’s like I’m looking forward to
accomplishing the next thing. So when I jumped colors,
and now that I’m in blue, it’s like that’s
not good enough. So now I have to be in black. So there’s always something
better that I have to get to, and that I’m looking for. It also helped Taylor in
knowing that he was not the first to blaze the
trail to outside linebacker as a tall, athletic body. I think seeing that he
was not the only one that had to do this, and
Elliott and Charles, we were doing the same thing
with them too, as well. I’m still checking the scale
when they weigh in saying, hey, we still got work to do. So Noah’s going through
it with all of them, and they’re a pretty
tight knit group, which I think is a sign
of the culture coach Poppinga has tried to
build in that room. They’re older than me, so I
definitely look up to them, and I mean, it’s just
constant competition. If Charles sees me do a pass
rush move, he’ll try to do it, and if I see him do something
crazy, I’ll try to do it. Same thing with me and Elliott. We’re always just
learning from each other, and just making
each other better. Pushing each other to reach
higher expectations and greater success both in the weight
room and on the field. The time for Noah
Taylor is coming. We’ve talked about we’ve seen
a lot of success from Noah already, but we talk
about it all the time, that he’s still got
a lot of work to do. He’s got more weight to gain. He’s got to get
stronger, but I think he’ll make a name for
himself this year, and I think from
the years on out, the expectation is just
going to be greater for him, and I don’t think it’s anything
he won’t be able to live up to.

About the Author: Garret Beatty

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