It was a rain-soaked Doak Campbell Stadium in the fall of 2003, and the number-two Miami Hurricanes were visiting their in-state-rival Florida State. In a battle of two top-five teams, Canes safety Sean Taylor had a game for the ages. Taylor intercepted Chris Rix twice, returning one for a touchdown, and was a nightmare for Bobby Bowden’s offense all day in a 22-14 Hurricanes victory.
For most of the country, it was Taylor’s coming-out party, if they hadn’t already known about the hard-hitting safety. Though for us around the Miami program, we had known of Taylor’s greatness before that day in Tallahassee.
11-years-ago, November 27th, 2007, Taylor was unfortunately and tragically taken from this world far too early, at the age of 24.
As we reflect on his legendary career more than a decade later, both in the college and pros, we are reminded not just of one of the greatest Miami Hurricanes to play, but a great man, a father, and a role-model.
A native of Dade County, a son of Miami, Sean Taylor fit the U like a glove. After shredding the high-school competition and leading Gulliver Prep to a state championship, Taylor took his talents to Coral Gables and joined Larry Coker and the Canes.
In his three-year career at UM, Taylor became a legend for the green and orange. A member of the 2001 National Championship team, the Hurricanes posted a record of 35-3 from 2001 to 2003.
When I think of Sean’s career at Miami and what followed, it reminds me of the 30 for 30 “Bo Knows,” made about the great Bo Jackson. In the beginning of the film, those who know Bo, were recalling legendary, almost mythical stories that sounded like something out of a superhero comic-book.
Random post Alert— Deone Bucannon (@deonebucannon20) July 13, 2018
Top 3 safety college highlights I watched growing up imo
1. Sean Taylor (Miami)
2. Eric Berry (Tenn)
3. Ed Reed (Miami)
3B. Taylor Mays (USC)
Sean Taylor is like that with Hurricanes fans. We’re always telling stories and sharing our fondest memories of a man who was taken much-too-soon.
The very first Miami game I was taken to was in 2002, Miami vs FSU. In the fourth quarter, Chris Rix threw a pass over-the-middle to receiver P.K. Sam, when all of a sudden Taylor came through and absolutely laid out Sam, knocking the ball free.
My first memory of Sean Taylor was after I finished my own college football game and this hit was all over @SportsCenter. I can’t believe it’s been ten years since his death. pic.twitter.com/Hea08GgkuL— Darren M. Haynes (@DarrenMHaynes) November 27, 2017
It’s not just his plays against the Seminoles that he’s remembered for. Canes fans will mention his 78-yard touchdown on a reverse-punt-return against Pitt. Others will look-back at his performance versus Syracuse, when Taylor hauled in a 47-yard touchdown on a fake-punt.
His 2003 season is regarded as one of the greatest seasons ever played by a safety in college. In 13 games, Taylor intercepted 10 passes, returned three for touchdowns (Miami record), led the team in tackles, and was named a unanimous first-team All-American as well as Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
RIP: Sean Taylor Hurricanes Highlight Video http://t.co/az851ttU— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) November 27, 2011
Leaving Miami after his junior-season, Taylor was drafted fifth-overall by the Washington Redskins, and was the first of six Hurricanes that were selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
During only a four-year career with the Redskins, Taylor shined. He was a two-time Pro Bowler, first-team All-Pro selection in 2007, and made highlight play after highlight play.
Sean Taylor with a nasty hit pic.twitter.com/6QrOaD4wIi— AverageSportsPlays (@AverageSptsPlay) February 1, 2016
Since his death in November of 2007, Taylor’s legacy has grown into something that is still talked about today, not just by fans, but by former Miami Hurricanes as well.
One of those tributes was when former UM greats Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Willis McGahee remembered Taylor following his death.
Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Willis McGahee paying tribute to Sean Taylor. Utmost respect for them pic.twitter.com/8CRDLjPYo2— Johnny Obeid (@JohnnyObeid) November 27, 2017
“As a writer, I’ve never compared anyone to Sean. I don’t think it’s fair because Sean was that good, that talented, that unique,” once said Matt Bowen, former Redskins teammate and sports journalist.
A head-hunter that could’ve played football in any era, this 6-2, 220-pound gift is still regarded as one of the greatest safeties ever to play in college football or the NFL.
Former head coach in Washington, Joe Gibbs said this about Sean Taylor, “God made certain people to play football. He was one of them.”
Though taken from us from a group of cowards, the community of Miami, and the football-world will forever continue to remember him, and continue telling our tales of 26.