Former Pitt State standout Darian Taylor earns shot at pro football

Taylor has signed to join the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
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PITTSBURG, Kan. – Nearly four years after his college career ended, former Pitt State linebacker Darian Taylor has earned his shot at playing professional football.

“I’m hungry. I’m so damn hungry,” Taylor says.

Taylor has signed with the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers – the 2X defending Grey Cup Champions.

“Defense is a very big part of the team and the culture here,” Taylor says of signing with Winnipeg, “I’m excited to be back on the field in general, but to be with an organization like this…I feel like there’s not a better place I could be.”

Taylor’s journey back to the football field has been filled with highs and lows.

Following his graduation from Pittsburg State, Taylor says he received calls and interest from pro teams about bringing him in – but nothing ever panned out.

“Nothing came out of it after a few months. It was kind of frustrating. I was living with my mom…which is every college graduate’s dream,” Taylor says with a laugh, “It got to the point where I had to move out and start making some money. I hung up the cleats and thought I did my time in the game, and now it’s time to move on to the next thing.”

Taylor has spent the last few years teaching and coaching at his alma mater, Manhattan High School in Manhattan, Kansas.

He coached with the freshman team in his first year at Manhattan, and then with the varsity squad this past season.

“Being around the game, I realized the passion I have for it still,” Taylor says, “Then I came back to Pitt State’s home opener last year, and being in those environments sparked the fire within me. One night I just made the decision to get back to the grind and pursue this thing and see where the chips fall.”

The former Gorilla standout says he’s spent the last 8 months training and working out whenever he can before and after school.

It was a general free agent camp in Atlanta in April that caught Winnipeg’s eye and earned Taylor the shot he’s been waiting for.

“I guess my numbers got out to the people here in Winnipeg. I got a call and they said they were interested,” Taylor says, “They called me last Friday and said they were going to bring me up, so here I am.”

Taylor was a captain and a 2X All-MIAA selection for Pittsburg State. His senior season in 2018 he played in 10 games for the Gorillas, racking up 43 tackles, including 4 tackles-for-loss. He also had a forced fumble that season.

He earned the reputation of being one of the most physical, hard-hitting linebackers in the league.

“That’s one of the things that stood out to Winnipeg about my game tape,” Taylor says of his physical style, “When I met the head coach here for the first time yesterday he said oh you’re that guy from Pittsburg State that likes to hit. I said yeah, that’s me.”

“I’m kind of excited to have my bell rung that first time and get that feeling again,” Taylor adds, “It’s been a little bit.

While Taylor hasn’t played in a live game since November 2018, he’s never gotten too far from football.

“Being a coach, I never stopped learning or caring about football. I feel like my knowledge is as high as its been,” Taylor adds, “I’m the healthiest and strongest I’ve ever been. There’s obviously going to be a bit of a curve coming off no contact for a few years. But I’m 26 and I’m in my prime. I’m in the best shape of my life.”

Rookie camp begins today (Wednesday) for Taylor in Winnipeg.

“I’m so giddy. It was hard to sleep last night. I had my outfit all laid out and everything today,” Taylor says, “I just feel so blessed. There aren’t too many people who step away from the game like I did, make the commitment to come back and then get this opportunity.”

It’s an opportunity he’s waited years for – and a chance to set things straight in his football journey.

“I’ve been out of the game for three years, but I see this as an opportunity to do things right,” Taylor says, “I feel like I was a good player, but I don’t think I was anywhere near what I could have been if I was doing different things on and off the field. For me, it’s almost like redemption. I truly feel like this is where I’m supposed to be.”

“There were a lot of highs and lows. I kept telling myself that if it’s meant to be, God is going to open up the door and present that opportunity to me somewhere,” Taylor finishes, “Now that I have the chance to get my foot in the door and do what I do, I’m confident this is where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m very excited to do things differently this time around.”