- Deriontae Taylor on seeing action on both sides of the ball. "> - Deriontae Taylor on seeing action on both sides of the ball. ">

Deriontae Taylor becomes newest fullback

"Right now I am at fullback and I'll do anything to help the team win." <b>- Deriontae Taylor on seeing action on both sides of the ball.</b>

Louisville sophomore Deriontae Taylor is the kind of athlete that coaches love. A player that overcomes obstacles, is willing to do anything for the team and is full of heart and determination.

At 5-foot-8, 220-pounds, Taylor has often been labeled as too small for Division IA football, especially the linebacker position. While playing at Jeff Davis High School in Montgomery, Alabama, he was often told, over and over, 'you're too short.'

"It has motivated me throughout my life," Taylor explained. "No matter what sport it was, someone was always telling me that I was too short. It can be a negative, but I look at it as a positive."

He pointed out that he used his height to hide behind the defensive line, allowing him to make high amounts of tackles each season.

Following his senior season at Jeff Davis, Taylor was awared the Alabama Class 5A Achievement Award, which is given to athletes that have had to overcome obstacles to achieve a high level of success. Additionally, he participated in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star contest.

However, just as the critics before, college coaches shyed away from Taylor during the recruiting process because of his height.

"I did get letters from Florida State, Miami, Florida and bunch of others," Taylor said. "I only got two offers though...from Tuskegee and Alabama A&M. I didn't want to stay that close to home, so I thought I might have to walkon somewhere."

Then the University of Louisville called. Taylor scheduled a trip to the River City and appeared ready to walkon, but a scholarship offer was extended just prior to the fall camp.

"I almost didn't make it," continued Taylor. "I had the grades and everything, but I didn't have a scholarship until a week before practice started."

With scholarship in hand, Taylor officially committed to U of L.

As fall practice began, Taylor displayed his determination by being the first to reach the practice fields prior to each session and becoming a frequent presence in special teams and with the second unit defense at linebacker.

"That's something that my little brother and I started," said Taylor. "We always wanted to be the first and being first on the field is kind of like the early bird gets the worm. Me being first on the field helps me get a jump on the competition."

His determination payed off. Taylor saw action in six games as a true freshman, recording six tackles.

After spending time during the off season in the wieght room, Taylor entered spring practice atop the depth chart at weakside linebacker. However, after a week of practice, Taylor was asked by the Cardinals coaching staff to switch to the fullback position.

"They called me Thursday morning when I got out of class and told me," said the sophomore. "No matter where you are they'll find you. Right now I am at fullback and I don't know if I will go back to linebacker, so I'll do anything to help the team win."

Despite the majority of his action being recorded as a fullback, Taylor does continue to see time on the defensive side of the ball, making him a rare two-way athlete.

In Saturday's scrimmage, Taylor saw time on both sides of the ball and recorded three tackles and fumble recovery. He also recorded one carry for two yards, but his blocking for Eric Shelton, Reggie Bradshaw and Sergio Spencer helped the backs gain over 170-yards on the afternoon.

"I played a couple games at fullback, so it's not entirely new to me, but I do need to get back into the swing of things...it shouldn't take long," Taylor explained.

Taylor also grades his performance pretty well, but also recognizes room for improvement.

"I think that I've done pretty good," Taylor said. "I've made some mistakes, but it's nothing that coach can't fix."

Despite the few mistakes, which are the type only coaches would notice, Taylor's continued determination and focus will do nothing but be beneficial to his Cardinal teammates.

"I bring a positive attitude and a good work ethic," said Taylor. "I have a God given talent and I just want to go out there everyday and work to get better."

Be sure to stay up to date with all the news from the practice fields with ITV's Spring Practice Guide.

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