Familiarity is one thing that has been missing from Reese Taylor’s young college football career.
Is he a cornerback, a quarterback, a receiver or a kick returner?
While those questions are certainly familiar to Taylor, the answer has typically depended on which week you were asking.
One place that is familiar to the sophomore Indianapolis native is Lucas Oil Stadium, where Indiana opens their season in a few weeks.
Taylor finished his prep career there at the home of the Indianapolis Colts, leading Ben Davis High School to the Class 6A state championship in 2017.
“If I play there I feel like I’m at home,” Taylor told The Daily Hoosier. “It’s going to be a good moment (going back).”
It was certainly a good moment on that November 2017 evening for Taylor.
Leading the Giants from the quarterback position, he went 18-of-22 through the air for 340 yards and six touchdowns while adding 131 yards and another score on the ground.
When he returns there to face Ball State, Taylor will be tasked with shutting down the offensive aerial assault rather than leading it.
At least that’s the plan right now.
As it stands, the plan for Taylor is to play cornerback.
Of course that was the plan at this time last year too. But before the season ended, Taylor had taken hand-offs, caught passes, played on special teams, and he had even risen to No. 2 on the quarterback depth chart.
When you ask head coach Tom Allen and cornerback coach Brandon Shelby, there seems to be a bit more conviction about how Taylor will be utilized in 2019.
Shelby sees a lot of promise in Taylor as a corner.
“I think he’s in a position right now (at corner) where he can use all of his skills, and in the end it will take him a long way,” Shelby said.
“He understands the game. He’s a tough young man. He is a guy that just does things the right way. I’m excited for his growth.”
As with all of his young players, Shelby believes Taylor’s career path will be defined first and foremost by Taylor.
“He can go as far as he wants to go,” Shelby said. “Will he choose sleep over film? Will he choose getting a lunch first? Getting more work after practice? A lot of it is up to the players. He has the tools to be a really good DB.”
If Taylor’s work ethic is on the same level of his willingness to do what is needed for the team, then the sky is the limit.
“One thing about Reese that I really appreciate and love about him is that he’s a true team player,” Shelby added.
Never was Taylor’s dedication to the team more tested than last season as he bounced around from position group to position group, and playbook to playbook.
It was certainly enough to challenge a 19 year old former Indiana Mr. Football that had started at quarterback for three straight seasons in high school.
“I wasn’t frustrated, but I had a lot on my plate,” Taylor said. “With all of the positions I was doing, I had to do more than everyone else on the team, but I feel like I can do it.”
The 5-foot-11, 185 pound Taylor will continue doing more than most during his sophomore season.
While Taylor is locked in at corner as his primary position, fans would do well to continue to keep their eyes trained for No. 2 when the defense leaves the field.
One other area that Taylor was putting in time behind the scenes last year was learning how to return punts. Taylor had a good one to look up to in J-Shun Harris, and he often quizzed the now departed Harris in the nuances of that craft.
Look for Taylor to emerge as the starting punt returner in week one.
Is that it?
“I know I’m back at punt return, but if I can do kick return too I’m going do that too,” Taylor added. “I’m going to do as much as I can for the team.”
“We don’t know yet. Wherever they need me — corner, offense, defense — I’m going to do it.”
That has become a very familiar refrain over the last year from a guy that hasn’t had enough time to gain familiarity with any position on the field, but has already made meaningful contributions at several.
Taylor played in all 12 games in 2018 as a true freshman. He had 15 carries for 83 yards, 28 receptions for 174 yards, 7 tackles and 3 kick returns.
Whatever it is, Taylor feels like he can do it, and he is more than willing to do what Indiana’s coaches ask of him.
Beyond just being that “true team player” as Coach Shelby described him, there is something else fueling Taylor and his willingness to do whatever is needed.
Familiarity has escaped Taylor thus far on the field, and he wants to make things a little less familiar at home too — and a little more comfortable.
“I’m trying to get to the next level,” Taylor said. “I”m trying to get my momma a big house. I’m trying to make her and my dad not work anymore.”
Right now everyone seems to think that the best path to the next level for Taylor is playing cornerback and returning punts.
But with a path that so far looks more like a maze, the best advice for now might simply be this.
Stay tuned. And stay on the lookout for No. 2.
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