Unexpected Position

What started out as a temporary starting job -- replacing a then-injured Scooter Berry -- has turned into a multi-game starting assignment for redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Josh Taylor.

Taylor took over for Berry after he was injured in the first half of the Mountaineers' second game of the season against East Carolina and has been in the starting lineup ever since.

"It's something we prepared for," admitted Taylor. "You know someone could go down so you have to be ready at all times. I was kind of surprised [that my starting role has lasted so long] but it's just something you have to roll with. You can't let it get to you."

Taylor got his first start as a Mountaineer in West Virginia's next game against Auburn. The Florida native had one tackle in the Mountaineers' loss as he got acclimated to playing a greater number of snaps. However, Taylor's biggest game of his career came the following week when he had an early interception against Syracuse. Although he fumbled the ball, junior linebacker Pat Lazear recovered it and ran the ball 53 yards setting the Mountaineers up for their first points of the game.

"That was crazy for me," said Taylor. "It was my first time intercepting the ball. I keep telling people that I pitched it so it won't sound as bad."

As Taylor prepares to start his sixth game of the season, he admits that this one will be a little more special than the first five. Like many members of the team, the Florida native is excited to travel to his home state to take on USF.

"That's a big thing for me because I have family in Tampa and I have family all over Florida," said Taylor of the homecoming. "Everybody is calling me for tickets to see if they can come to the game. It's a really big thing."

After having just shy of a half of a season of starts under his belt, Taylor admits that although it was nerve-wracking to be thrown into the starting position, it has helped him to grow as a football player.

"I've learned that if you do the wrong thing, [Coach Kirelawich] is going to get after you," Taylor said with a laugh. "It's been a big learning experience. I have been playing nose guard since I got here and moving out to tackle has been a big learning experience for me. The game is a lot quicker out there. I have had my ups and downs but I think I'm doing pretty good. There are a couple of things that I need to get better at but that's what the season is for and what practices are for."

With Berry now suspended indefinitely, Taylor's time as a starter looks to be in place for at least a couple more weeks, if not longer. Although it has already exceeded far beyond what he expected this season, Taylor's will stay prepared for whatever is thrown at him next -- although he can't help but hope that it's another interception. "It's something you just have to roll with," said Taylor. "You have to stay prepared and watch film and do what you can do to be ready at all times. You never know when you could be put on the spot."

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