Taylor, new Jackson State coach: ‘There’s an expectation to win’

Nearly two weeks after Jackson State University general manager Deion Sanders accepted a key coaching position at Colorado State, the nationwide search for Jackson State athletic director Ashley Robinson has led him to select Sanders’ successor to T.C. Taylor, currently the wide receivers coach for the Tigers.

Promoting is a natural progression for Taylor, a Macomb, Mississippi, native who practically grew up at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium: He attended Jackson State games as a youth fan, played for JSU from 1998 to 2001 and returned to the Tigers in 2019 as the position coach.

“God always told me that I would have a chance to come back here and be a part of this program. But to have this opportunity to be the head coach and the guy leading the offense, it’s an incredible moment right now,” Taylor said. I kind of accept [it] Whatever it is, but I’m excited about it, and I’m ready to go.”

Midway through the 2021 season, Sanders elevated Taylor to offensive coordinator. The Tigers finished the year with an 11-2 record, a Southwestern Athletic Conference championship and a Celebration Bowl berth.

After announcing his departure during a team meeting after the SWAC tournament, Sanders suggested that he be chosen to replace him.

“My recommendation to TC,” Sanders said. “They know how I feel about the core shareholder I want, and many employees will be kept here. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for this guy.”

Taylor didn’t expect Sanders to endorse him as successor on his way out and said he knew it made a difference in the hiring process.

“It means a lot, but it’s just a testament to how hard I work on a day-to-day basis. I just practice my work on a day-to-day basis. I practice consistency, and I just know when he said it didn’t go unnoticed,” Taylor said. [everything] For the players on this football team to be better, so I appreciate that. I told him so.”

Taylor, who would be a first-time head coach, was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at North Carolina Central, where he helped guide the team to three straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championships (2014-16). He spent five seasons overall (2014-2018) as a member of the Eagles coaching staff under then-head coach Jerry Mack.

Mack played briefly with Taylor for Jackson State in 1999 before moving elsewhere to finish his college career. Mack, who is currently a running backs coach for the Tennessee Volunteers, has high expectations for Taylor.

“You’re talking about a man [T.C. Taylor] Who was beloved in the Jackson State community because not only did he play for Jackson State but because he was a Mississippi guy. “He’s a Mississippi legend in his own right,” said Mack. “Anytime you have a chance to hire someone that I basically raised — Jackson State, they raised TC and developed him into the guy that he is — and for him to get the chance to run this program, that’s a pretty cool deal. I’m excited for him. … he gets The chance to take over a team of championship caliber.”

Although he won’t be the Tigers’ head coach at this year’s Cricket Celebration Bowl — Sanders will finish the season with the team — Taylor is still focused on helping Jackson State claim its first title in Celebration. Once the game is over, Taylor’s focus will shift to adding coaching staff and continuing with staffing ahead of the December 21-23 early football signing period.

“I’ve got a few guys lined up that I’m excited about. I can’t talk to them until we get pen to paper. But I’m making sure we get the right coaches in here to mentor, lead and execute the X and O of these guys,” Taylor said. But the main thing is recruitment. We must continue to recruit top athletes, because there was a difference between 13-0 and 7-6. So for now, we’ll hit the ground running on Sunday, come back here, start doing some recruiting, try to set up some hits and try to keep this thing going in the right direction.”

Taylor said he feels no pressure in succeeding Pro Football Hall of Famer Sanders. Despite the coaching change, expectations for Jackson State — and Taylor — remain the same.

“The thing about Jackson State is that there is an expectation to win,” Taylor said. “It’s something I remember growing up as a fan and as a player here. There’s an expectation to win, and that’s the kind of football players we want on the field every day — guys who understand, want to bleed blue, protect the block and guard the yard.”

Mia Perry is Andscape’s senior HBCU writer covering everything from sports to student-led protests. She is a Detroit native (What up Doe!), a long-suffering Detroit sports fan and Notre Dame alumnus who randomly yells, “Go Irish.”

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