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Monday, May 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Senior safety, former walk-on gets his chance to shine

Football side

On the Thursday afternoon before IU’s matchup against Illinois, senior safety Collin Taylor ran out onto the practice field as he normally does.

Except this time, he heard the voice of IU co-defensive coordinator Joe Palcic yell to him.

“We were just running on the field, and he said, ‘Collin, you’ll do it on Saturday,’” Taylor said of being named a starter. “I went through practice and did not really think about it, but I was sitting in that locker room after thinking, ‘This is it. This is what I have been waiting for, and it finally came.’”

Taylor, a former walk-on, is now a starting safety for the Hoosiers opposite senior Austin Thomas.

With injuries to sophomore cornerback Chris Adkins and senior safety Nick Polk, the IU coaching staff called on Taylor to step up against Illinois, Northwestern and Iowa.

He did just that.

In last week’s matchup with the Hawkeyes, Taylor had two interceptions, a forced fumble and seven tackles (six solo). He has 20 tackles on the season.

Off the field, he has worked to become a leader in the weight room and during early-morning conditioning.

Thomas said despite being a former walk-on, Taylor possesses the intangibles to be a major contributor in the secondary.

“He’s extremely athletic, has a great football mindset, great instincts and works hard day-in and day-out,” Thomas said. “Against Iowa, he came up with two big picks, and that was huge for us. He has really stepped up as a senior.”

A wide receiver in high school, Taylor came to IU hoping to catch passes from quarterbacks. But despite making the transition to safety last season, Taylor is still hauling in throws – just not ones intended for him.

A main reason he reached this point in his career is because of his strong effort on special teams.

Palcic said Taylor’s intense work ethic was clear on each kick-off, field goal and punt.

“I smile when I talk about him because he has done such a good job for us,” Palcic said. “He’s a kid that comes and watches extra film, pays attention during practice and does all the right things. All of a sudden, we get some injuries, and we put him in. It’s like he has played safety his whole career.”

That strong determination stems from a family of IU athletes.

His sister Jackie threw the discus and shot-put for the Hoosiers’ track and field team in 2004.

In the late 1940s, his grandfather was a member of the IU tennis team.

“I was just trying to follow in their footsteps,” Taylor said. “Once I got the opportunity, I tried to take full advantage of it.”

Taylor said a common theme shared by his walk-on teammates is to play each game like it’s their last. With only three games remaining in his collegiate career – against Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue – you can expect Taylor to do nothing but that.

“I just wanted to make the team,” Taylor said of when he originally chose IU. “If you would have told me back then that I would be starting, I wouldn’t have believed you. It has been a long journey, but I’m glad to finally be where I’m at now.” 

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