|Other Position:||Cornerbacks Coach|
Trooper Taylor, a 25-year coaching veteran at the NCAA FBS level who helped lead Auburn to a 2011 BCS National Championship, is in his fifth year as Arkansas State’s cornerbacks coach and begins his third with the Red Wolves since being elevated to the position of assistant head coach.
Taylor’s first four seasons at A-State saw him help lead the Red Wolves to 31 victories, a bowl game appearance each year and back-to-back Sun Belt Conference championships in 2015 and 2016.
Taylor has been a part of 13 bowl games during his career, which includes stops at Baylor, New Mexico, Tulane, Tennessee, Oklahoma State and Auburn in addition to Arkansas State.
With Taylor on the sidelines, the Red Wolves played in the GoDaddy Bowl to conclude a 7-6 season in 2014. The 2015 squad participated in the New Orleans Bowl, capping a nine-win campaign and undefeated run in the Sun Belt. Taylor helped the Red Wolves rebound from an 0-4 start in 2016 to post an 8-5 record, win a Sun Belt title and defeat UCF 31-13 in the Cure Bowl. Most recently in 2017, the Red Wolves won at least seven games for the fourth straight year and made their first trip to the Camellia Bowl.
Taylor’s 2017 cornerbacks unit was anchored by his son, Blaise, who established himself from 2014-17 as one of the premier, most distinguished and highly decorated student-athletes in the history of Arkansas State, the Sun Belt Conference and the NCAA. The younger Taylor’s time at A-State culminated in 2017 as he played out his senior season, eventually being named the Arthur Ashe Jr. Male Sports Scholar of the Year, a Wuerffel Trophy finalist, National Football Foundation (NFF) All-American Scholar and prestigious Campbell Trophy finalist. Blaise also completed his career as the Sun Belt Conference’s all-time leader in career passes defended.
Blaise was named First Team All-Sun Belt Conference in 2017 after completing his career as the league’s all-time leader in career passes defended, and the Taylor-coached corners helped A-State rank among the top 42 teams in the nation in 4th down conversion percentage defense (No. 9), 3rd down percentage defense (No. 21), defensive touchdowns (No. 21), turnovers gained (No. 29), passes intercepted (No. 32), first downs defense (No. 32), team passing efficiency defense (No. 40) and red zone defense (No. 42).
The 2016 season also saw Taylor coach Chris Humes, who went on to sign a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Raiders, through a transition from safety to cornerback his final year with the Red Wolves. Blaise and Humes combined for 81 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, four interceptions, 15 pass break-ups, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. Taylor’s unit was key in A-State ranking among the top 25 teams in the nation in tackles for loss (No. 1), defensive touchdowns (No. 8), scoring defense (No. 19), team pass efficiency defense (No. 23) and fumbles recovered (No. 24).
His cornerbacks were responsible for nine interceptions and 20 pass break-ups during the 2015 season that saw the Red Wolves’ defense rank first in the nation in both interceptions (26) and defensive touchdowns (8), second in turnovers gained (34) and 21st in pass completion percentage defense. He tutored senior corner Rocky Hayes, who was named First Team All-Sun Belt Conference after recording six interceptions that tied the second most in the league.
Taylor’s 2014 position group was part of A-State’s defense that ranked No. 14 in the nation in defensive touchdowns (4), No. 15 in passes intercepted (16), No. 17 in team sacks (2.85 per game), No. 21 in turnovers gained (28), No. 27 in third down percentage defense (.359), No. 28 in fumbles recovered (12), No. 36 in fourth down percentage defense (.435) and team tackles for loss (6.6 per game), No. 42 in red zone defense (.795), No. 44 in passing yards allowed (216.0 ypg) and No. 45 in team passing efficiency defense (122.26). Additionally, A-State’s 28 turnovers gained were its third most ever as an FBS member.
Under Taylor’s direction, seniors Artez Brown and Andrew Tryon enjoyed the best seasons of their career in 2014 and earned first team and honorable mention All-Sun Belt Conference honors, respectively. Brown was responsible for four interceptions, which tied the most on the team, to go along with 26 tackles and five pass break-ups. Tryon posted career-best numbers for tackles (71), tackles for loss (5.5), interceptions (2) and pass break-ups (9).
As a group, A-State’s cornerbacks were responsible for 137 tackles, seven interceptions, 19 pass break-ups and three fumble recoveries, including a 93-yard return for touchdown by Rocky Hayes that was the longest fumble return in school history.
Considered one of the nation’s top recruiters, Taylor helped A-State secure five consecutive signing classes from 2014 to 2018 that were ranked among the top three in the Sun Belt Conference by at least two of the major recruiting services.
Taylor came to A-State after serving as the Auburn’s assistant head coach and wide receivers coach from 2009-12.
In Auburn’s 2010 national championship season, Taylor's receiver corps produced in all phases, making impact catches and providing hard-nosed blocking for the Tigers' conference-best rushing attack. Auburn receivers connected on 45 plays of 20 yards or more, including five plays of 60 yards or more, as the Tigers set a school record for points (577) and led the Southeastern Conference averaging 41.2 points per game. The Tigers had three receivers total 500 yards or more and as a unit averaged 16.9 yards per catch, hauling in 2,461 of Auburn's total 3,002 total passing yards.
He helped lead the Tigers to a 43-24 Chick-Fil-A Bowl victory over Virginia and a No. 25 BCS ranking in 2011. Receiver Emory Blake was responsible for six receptions for 108 yards in the bowl-game victory that gave the Tigers their eighth win of the year.
During his first season, he helped the Auburn offense emerge as one of the nation's finest, while also solidifying his reputation as a top-notch recruiter. The Auburn offense set numerous school records during the 2009 season, including points in a season (433), most total yards of offense in a season (5,613) and most plays in a season (914).
Taylor coached Darvin Adams, who broke the Auburn single-season record for receptions with 60 for 997 yards and ranked second in the SEC with 10 touchdown catches. Adams, who entered the season with just three career catches for 18 yards, was named the MVP of the Outback Bowl after hauling in career highs of 12 receptions for 142 yards.
In addition to his coaching duties on the field, Taylor was also instrumental in helping Auburn bring in some of the most highly regarded recruiting classes in the nation as the Tigers’ 2010, 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes were ranked fourth, third and 17th, respectively, by ESPN.com.
Auburn signed a consensus top-five recruiting class in 2010, when Taylor was named to Rivals.com’s its list of the top-25 recruiters in the nation and one of the top 10 recruiters in the SEC. It marked the third time he was named to the top-25 list by Rivals.com, having previously earned the recognition in 2005 and 2007.
In 2008, his only season at Oklahoma State, Taylor helped the Cowboys’ offense produce two first-team All-Americans in wide receiver Dez Bryant and running back Kendall Hunter. A Biletnikoff Award finalist, first-team All-Big 12 selection and academic all-conference member, Bryant led the Big 12 in receiving and was third nationally.
With Taylor working as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, the Cowboys played in the 2008 Holiday Bowl and ranked sixth in the nation in total offense (487.7 ypg), eighth in rushing offense (245.46 ypg), ninth in scoring offense (40.7 ppg) and 38th in passing offense (242.23 ypg).
Prior to OSU, Taylor served as Tennessee’s assistant head coach from 2004-07, coaching wide receivers his last two seasons after serving as the running backs coach from 2004-05. While a member of the Tennessee staff, he helped lead the Volunteers to the 2005 Cotton Bowl and 2007 and 2008 Outback Bowl. The Vols posted a pair of 10-win seasons, claimed 34 total victories and finished ranked among the top-25 teams in the nation three times during Taylor’s time with the program.
His first season as running backs coach, Tennessee ranked 24th in the nation in rushing yards (186.0 ypg) with Gerald Riggs Jr. leading the team individually with 85.2 yards per game to rank 47th in the country. Riggs and fellow running back Cedric Houston became UT’s first pair of 1,000-yard rushers in the same season in 2004. His second season, he tutored now NFL All-Pro running back Arian Foster.
Following his move wide receivers coach, the Volunteers ranked 12th in the nation in passing yards with 264.5 yards per game in 2006. Under Taylor’s direction, Robert Meachem was a first-round NFL draft pick after ranking fourth in the nation in receiving yards (99.9 ypg) to earn All-America recognition. The 2007 Tennessee team ranked No. 35 in the nation in passing yards (262.5 ypg), while Lucas Taylor ranked among the top 44 players in the NCAA FBS in both receptions and receiving yards.
Taylor went to Knoxville after coaching receivers at Tulane from 1999-2003. He coached four wideouts into the NFL during his tenure in New Orleans, including Adrian Burnette, Kerwin Cook and Terrell Harris. The fourth future NFL player under his tutelage at Tulane was Roydell Williams, who went on to set school and Conference USA career records for touchdown catches with 35.
Prior to Tulane, he was the running backs coach at New Mexico in 1998 after a five year stint on the coaching staff at Baylor, his alma mater. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at Baylor in 1992, then spent the 1994-97 seasons as the Bears’ wide receivers coach (1994, 1997) and secondary coach (1995-96). He helped lead Baylor to the Alamo Bowl in 1994.
Taylor played defensive back at Baylor from 1988-91 and finished his playing career as the school's leader in kickoff returns (53) and return yardage (1,063), while also helping the Bears to the Copper Bowl his senior campaign. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from Baylor University in 1992.
The Cuero, Texas, native is married to the former Evi Crosby of Harbor City, Calif. He and his wife, who was a track and field scholarship student-athlete at Baylor, have one daughter, Starr, and a son, Blaise.