Prior to receiving an Alabama football scholarship from Paul W. Bryant, Taylor played just one season of high school football, starting the fourth game. Football was a luxury considering James Taylor had lost his father at eight years old. His widowed mother with a third grade education struggled to raise ten children. Work was the only activity allowed until his senior year.
The Mount Vernon native and Citronelle High School product was inducted into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame, class of 2015, on Thursday at the Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa. He was a member of three Southeastern Conference Championship teams (1973-75) and played in three consecutive bowl games – two Sugar Bowls and one Orange Bowl. The 1973 team earned a share of the national championship with a number one ranking in the UPI Coaches Poll. The three-year letter winner was a game captain 12 times during his career. Alabama compiled a 33-3 overall record, never losing a conference game.
Taylor, 6-1, 180 pounds, was a swift halfback in the dominating wishbone offense. Alabama set an NCAA rushing record of 748 yards in 1973 against Virginia Tech. Four Tide players ran for over 100 yards in the 77-6 victory. Taylor led the team with 142 rushing yards, one an 80-yard touchdown scamper. Halfback Wilbur Jackson had 136, fullback Calvin Culliver 127, and quarterback Richard Todd 102. Four 100-yard rushers in one game tied an NCAA record.
A proud member of the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians, he and his wife of 34 years, Susan, raised four children. Joshua (a doctor), Maria (a nurse), Jamie (a restaurant area manager), and Lance, a former Alabama football player (flanker 2001-03 letter winner) and currently the running backs coach at Stanford University.
Taylor is the owner of a successful construction business.
Upon his graduation from Alabama, Citronelle held a parade in his honor and awarded him keys to the city along with a new car. During his Mobile Sports Hall of Fame induction speech Thursday evening he expressed gratitude to God, his parents, brothers, sisters, friends, his Citronelle High School football coach, Billy Coleman, teammates and of course, Coach Bryant. Taylor is the first Native American inducted into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame.