DJ Taylor’s Exceptional Talent and Relentless Drive Paved the Way for Incredible Opportunities.

by | Aug 2023

PICTURE YOURSELF in a football uniform. Picture yourself standing in the middle of a high school football field in Tennessee on a Friday afternoon in the fall. There is noise coming from everywhere. There may be aches and exhaustion ringing in your body, but you can not let them stop you. Football is a physical and mental game. This kind of challenge does not call to everyone, but it does call to DJ Taylor. Taylor graduated from Huntland High School, where he began to excel as a student-athlete. 

His natural talent, commitment, and drive to be the best have led him to incredible opportunities. Taylor received a full scholarship to the very prestigious Wake Forest University. After finishing his bachelor’s program, he continued his education and football journey at Bowling Green State University, where he received a master’s in business administration. Not only is Taylor a great model of athletic excellence to Franklin County student-athletes, but he leads by example in academic excellence as well. Giving back to his community is a value that Taylor holds close to him, and he continues to be involved with local youth when his schedule permits. 

Taylor came to this area when he was beginning the fifth grade. “Growing up, my granddad was really into baseball, so I played a few sports. I played baseball, football, and basketball as well. Around my sophomore year of high school is when football got more serious for me. I really loved the contact in football. I am an aggressive player,” Taylor described. “During my sophomore year, Coach Reed came to Huntland and changed some things, and I really started to believe in myself to do big things. Coach Reed took me to football camps in Murfreesboro and Nashville, and that’s when I started getting noticed and invited to even more camps, and eventually, I was invited to the state All-Star game.” All the while, our community cheered him on. Taylor set his sights on big goals. He wanted to take advantage of his talents to open doors to his future, and he was blessed with an opportunity to attend Wake Forest University. Wake Forest is known for its challenging academic and sports programs. 

Photographed by Brooke Snyder.

“My first year at Wake Forest was very eye-opening,” Taylor shared. “I really didn’t know what to expect coming from a smaller school like Huntland. I graduated from a class of 44 students, so my classroom setting in high school had a family feel to it. Wake Forest isn’t a huge campus, but there was still a learning curve for me.” Taylor faced challenges in that first semester, but his determination carried him through, and he learned how to organize his time to meet all of the demanding responsibilities of student-athletes at the collegiate level. “I learned a lot by trial and error,” he added. When Taylor suffered an injury that kept him from playing during his sophomore year of college, the idea that he would need a backup plan outside of football for his career settled in. “It happened so fast. That’s when I really started thinking that football is plan A, but what about plans B, C, and D? That was when I started to think about how I got this amazing chance at such a prestigious school. I started thinking that I should commit to getting the degree instead of focusing on the NFL right now.” 

Taylor’s academic accomplishments didn’t end with a bachelor’s degree. Taylor went on to play his fifth year of football at Bowling Green State University, where he obtained his master’s degree in business administration. Taylor communicated that “The community support had been outstanding. People from Franklin County are still there cheering me on and checking on me.” Being small and family-oriented was one of Taylor’s favorite things about Huntland, and today he pays forward some of the support he was given early on in his career. Taylor hosts free workout sessions for the youth of Franklin County when he is available. He is allowing local student-athletes to get advice and training practice with a successful collegiate athlete. Taylor has walked in their shoes and has some advice for young athletes working hard to pursue big dreams. “Don’t let the moment get too big. Don’t listen to the noise; you have to always believe in yourself.” GN

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