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Garrett Taylor Growing Into Key Part Of Penn State’s Secondary

Redshirt junior safety Garrett Taylor had never started a college football game before this season, but he’s taken a featured role on Penn State’s defense and run with it.

Taylor won Penn State’s second starting safety job alongside Nick Scott after a strong spring and carrying that positive momentum into training camp. He’s started all six games for the Nittany Lions so far this year and has been one of Brent Pry’s most reliable defenders.

Garrett Taylor’s ball skills and positional awareness were on full display against Ohio State and Michigan State — he intercepted a deflected pass in each game.

The Richmond, VA, native had some issues tackling early in the year, but drastically improved as the season progressed. That growth culminated in his two strongest games of the year against Ohio State and Michigan State.

Penn State lost both of those contests, but Taylor finished the games with a total of 10 tackles, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. He also broke up a career-high five passes against the Spartans, including a crucial shut down of Michigan State’s fake field goal.

The redshirt junior thinks he’s playing the best football of his career right now, and the stat sheet certainly backs up that statement. His recent play is a byproduct of how much more comfortable he’s become over the course of the season.

“I think I’m just getting better with every game,” Taylor said. “Being more comfortable out there is huge for me, and that’s allowed me to play faster. My instincts have taken over, so I’m making plays on the ball, but I definitely feel more comfortable at the position.”

Taylor’s two interceptions both happened because of his positioning and knowledge of the game. He was in the right place at the right time on each play, as both picks came from deflected passes.

Garrett Taylor’s 47-yard return of Dwayne Haskins’ second interception of the year set up a Penn State field goal.

Head coach James Franklin praised Taylor for his growth over the past few seasons and feels like the safety is maximizing his abilities on and off the field.

“He’s just one of those guys that really gets it,” Franklin said. “He says, ‘Look, I have this amount of time. I’ve got these opportunities, and I’m going to maximize them.’ He’s killing it in school. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Taylor arrived in Happy Valley ahead of the 2015 season in a recruiting class with Saquon Barkley, John Reid, Juwan Johnson, and seven other current or past starters for the Nittany Lions.

“He wasn’t ready a couple years ago and kind of kept getting better as his
role continued to improve and grow,” Franklin said. “The coaching staff feels like he is really maximizing his ability and his opportunity here.”

Nick Scott and Garrett Taylor have started all six games together this season.

Defensive captain Nick Scott starts alongside Taylor at the safety position. The senior, who Taylor said he’s grown closer with over the past year, has seen his partner in the secondary grow mentally as he’s emerged this past season.

“He’s extremely confident,” Scott said. “He’s owning his role and reaping the benefits of it. I look at Garrett Taylor like my little brother, so having him out there and seeing him make big plays means the world to me.”

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a senior majoring in journalism and Onward State's Sports Editor. He grew up in Bedminster, NJ and is way too obnoxious about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is hard. If you're dying to see more hockey/golf content on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. Send all hate mail, death threats, and your vote for the best chicken parm in State College to [email protected]


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