This is the second of a 10-part series detailing potential breakout players for Penn State in 2018. Yesterday: WR KJ Hamler
Suffering an injury as a senior in high school can negatively impact the collegiate career of any athlete. Penn State safety Garrett Taylor is an example of this.
As a senior at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Virginia, in the fall of 2014 Taylor suffered an ACL tear that put him on the shelf for a calendar year. Not only did this injury cause him to redshirt upon arriving in Happy Valley it also did not allow Taylor to be a full go in team activities until the end of the 2014 season.
Factor in a position change from cornerback to safety and you can see why the former top-150 recruit has yet to make a major impact for the Nittany Lions. However, after being a key special teams player the past two seasons and the graduations of Marcus Allen and Troy Apke, Taylor is ready to breakout this fall.
During the 2017 season Taylor saw action in all 13 games on special teams. Combined between special teams and limited action at safety Taylor recorded 12 tackles, he recovered a fumble, and he recorded a pass breakup.
Entering spring ball the depth chart at safety was wide open. All reports are that Taylor, along with redshirt senior Nick Scott, ball the depth chart at safety was wide open. All reports are that Taylor, along with redshirt senior Nick Scott, are the two that have risen above the rest as we enter the summer months.
Taylor brings more of an all-around skill set at safety than Penn State fans have seen in their safeties in recent years. While Allen was known for being more of a run stopper, Apke was better known for his pass coverage. Before Apke, Malik Golden was in this same boat.
However, Taylor has the size and physicality to stop the run while also possessing the athletic tools to play in coverage.
In high school, Taylor did a great job of reading and reacting to plays as a defender. He also could read the eyes of an opposing quarterback and go find the ball. These are traits that are vital for a player to possess in order to be successful at safety, as well as being traits that a player is not going to lose while spending three years redshirting/playing special teams.
With the ball skills that Taylor possesses he could bring something that Penn State has not had at safety in recent years. Look for Taylor to turn into a ball-hawking safety this fall and for splash plays to come from him as a result.
Taylor’s ball skills combined with his size and physicality will make him a safety capable of playing pass coverage or helping in run support. No offense to Marcus Allen, but this is something Penn State has not had since Adrian Amos. That will change this fall, though.