Aaron Taylor interview
I had the opportunity to meet Aaron Taylor after the Colorado game at the Big Red Shop of the Rockies in Estes Park and later interview him for HuskerPedia. Aaron played at NU from 1994-97 and was a member of all 3 National Championship teams.
In addition to winning the Outland Trophy Aaron has received numerous other honors while at the University of Nebraska. They are listed below:
- Touchdown Club of Columbus Offensive Lineman of the Year
- FWAA All-America
- Walter Camp All-America
- AP All-America
- Sporting News All-America
- Coaches All-Big 12
- AP All-Big 12
DM: Who recruited you out of Texas?
AT: Milt Tenopir recruited me out of high school. He had the west and north Texas area before Turner Gill took over the area.
DM: What other schools recruited you?
AT: Most other schools were skeptical about recruiting me because of my height. I had an offer from New Mexico State. I had a visit set up to SMU, BYU was looking at me, also Oklahoma State, and Missouri showed a little interest. The big schools wouldn't recruit me because of my height but yet the small schools wouldn't either because they thought I was Division 1 caliber. It was a tough situation. What helped me out quite a bit was the fact that I graduated the year after Scott Saltsman graduated from Rider High School in Wichita Falls, TX and that's how Nebraska knew about me. He was the defensive player of the year in Texas in 1992 and had every major college looking at him.
Coach Young was looking at a center at another school in our league who ended up going to Texas and his coach said if you want to get the best lineman in our district you might want to go to Wichita Falls and look at this Aaron Taylor guy.
DM: Why did you choose Nebraska?
AT: I didn't know a whole lot about Nebraska when I came up here. I was born and raised in Texas. My dad was retired military and so I spent my time either in Texas or Germany. I was a Texas A&M fan since I was small. They weren't recruiting me and I took a visit up to Nebraska to visit Scott and see what the University was all about. When I got here I was just awe struck. Everything here was way more than I expected. I was pretty pleased with everything that I saw and I got meet Coach Osborne and he ended up offering me a scholarship on my visit up here. It was an unbelievable situation on how everything happened.
DM: It turned out well for you and Nebraska.
AT: I was one of those kids that wanted to stay in Texas and I would have even gone to North Texas or TCU before I would have gone to Nebraska. I wanted to do good for my home state but I am not regretting my situation now.
DM: Do you have a favorite Tom Osborne story?
AT: Probably the biggest story that I tell about Coach Osborne is when we played Missouri and had the miracle catch to win the game. During the last drive to tie the game we called our last time out and the fans were absolutely going crazy and you couldn't hear a thing and us players were so juiced up and had adrenaline flowing through us and we had never been in a situation like that. We didn't know what to do and we wanted to do everything and do it 100 times better than we had before and you name it, we were just ready to do something.
Coach Osborne called the time out and we walked over there and he was his usual calm self. You could have taken his blood pressure and it would have been perfect. He was just chewing his gum and gave this spiel: "Well fellas, what we're going to do is run 32 and 38 option pass. You linemen, you just do your job and Scott, deliver the ball good and receivers, just catch it and get out of bounds and we'll be fine. Don't worry about it." He was just calm and it was unbelievable how much pressure was on us and the frenzy going on around us and he was just calm and I tell you what, it took all of us players and brought us down a little bit to where we could go out and execute and still keep our head. It was a fortunate deal how things happened.
DM: How was Milt Tenopir as a coach?
AT: I couldn't have fallen into a better situation, not only with Coach Osborne but especially with Coach Tenopir. I tell you what he really did for me. I was 10-12 hours away from home and he was basically my second father away from home. What I really like about Coach Tenopir was he would tell you what to do play wise and you could go out on the practice field and you could get the scheme of the defense and he would expect you to know it. He would give you one screw up and you could fix it that night at meetings but I tell you what, he didn't like it if you screwed it up again. I'm a firm believer in that if you screw it up once you should never do it again. To me that's what stuck.
He wasn't a hard nosed coach. He could be when he wanted to but he was really great, especially to my senior class. We would go out to practice and we would have a lot of fun. He would never get nervous. He knew we would always show up at game time and perform. Just him having that respect for us knowing that we would go out and perform for him like we did was good because a lot of coaches are really uptight and worry about what you're going to be doing and not having the faith in you that your are going to get the job done. He is a caring individual and to me there is no better coach/person in the University than Coach Tenopir.
DM: I think the whole coaching staff is a great group.
AT: They are. You just look at it. All of those coaches can go elsewhere and make more money. It is just a tribute to the whole coaching staff that these people are loyal. They really are. They have goals in mind and they sacrifice certain things to accomplish goals and you got to respect that. A player such as myself respects that and when we go out into the business world we will translate that to our job.
DM: What contribution did Boyd Epley and his strength and conditioning have?
AT: You look at everybody and you can see their contribution. They have such a specialized program that is second to none. What I like about them is that they have a program for linemen, they have a program for running backs, quarterbacks, recievers, etc. It is the most specialized and up to date program that you can have. You can have a great strength program and you can have great coaches but in order to be a first class university you need to have both and that is what Nebraska has. They're both great and I cherish every minute that I was there.
DM: What was your most memorable game?
AT: Actually there were four of them. My first one would be the first time I started my sophmore year in '95 at Michigan State. I had an unbelievable game. It was one of the better games that I had in my career. I can almost remember everything that I did.
The '95 Fiesta Bowl. That game was absolutely unbelievable. I mainly rember that because throughout the whole year everybody was saying that the offensive line wasn't the same because the pipeline of Stai, Zatechka, Wilks, and Weigert left. We ran all over Florida and the '95 line came away with no sacks given up, more rushing yards per game, more total yards per game, you name it. We exceeded what the '94 line did when nobody gave us a chance.
Another game would be the '97 Missouri game just because of the Coach Osborne situation and of course the catch.
The fourth one is the last home game of my career against Iowa State in '97. I remember giving my hug to Coach Osborne and running out to the field to the cheers and Rick Schwiegert is announcing the only two time All American at two different positions and that's the first time that I realized that I was the first Husker to ever do that. It was a special time.
DM: Who were you drafted by in the pros?
AT: I was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts and went through training camp with them. They put me on waivers to put me on practice squad and the Chicago Bears picked me up. I called it quits after one year. The NFL game is not near as glorious as it is made out to be. There is absolutely no loyalty to players, no job security, and just a bunch of factors that left me not having the love for the game that I had. It came to the point where I was going to be playing this season just basically for the pay check. I called my parents and said "Hey look, I don't love this anymore. I've got to get out of it." The money is great but I would rather be doing something else with my life than playing football just for money. I always told myself that if I was playing football just for money or if it wasn't fun any more than I was going to get out. I stuck to that promise and here I am.
DM: What are you doing now?
AT: I am coaching at Wahoo, Nebraska and I was working with Farm Bureau Insurance. I just started a new job with a commercial insurer in Omaha called the Silver Stone Group. I will continue to coach at Wahoo. It's a good situation. I'm enjoying what I'm doing and I'm happy where I'm at. I love the state of Nebraska and couldn't be happier where I'm at. And that's the key and I just wasn't happy with where I was at in Chicago. No amount of money is going to make you happy. I can tell you that.
DM: What type of insurance will you be doing with the Silver Stone Group?
AT: I will be an account executive for manufacturing, construction and trucking companies.
DM: What was your degre in?
AT: It was in Diversified Agriculture. I know it doesn't relate to insurance but I still plan on having a ranch up here and getting involved in the agricultural field.
DM: Aaron, thank you for taking the time for these questions. It has been a pleasure meeting you and I look forward to seeing you at a Husker game in the future.