By Matt Pawlikowski
Ike Taylor, CB #24
Hometown: Harvey, Louisiana
College: Louisiana Lafayette
Taylor was really an unknown out of Louisiana Lafayette, but in 2003, the Steelers did what they do best–find a talent who they knew would fill a role. Although he possessed 4.1 speed, he played just two full seasons. His senior season may have been what caught the Steelers’ brass attention, as he did not allow a pass to be caught on him in four consecutive games.
Since donning the black and gold Taylor has recorded 535 tackles (10 this year), 438 of them solo. He also has four fumble recoveries and 13 interceptions, which has been the only knock on him during his career and more than likely kept him from being mentioned with the top corners in the game such as Darrelle Revis.
The irony is that last year, Taylor led all corners, including Revis in defending the pass.
After beginning his career on special teams, where he led the team in kick returns with a 22.5 average, Taylor finally got his first start in the dime package against Cleveland. He played special teams again in 2004, and finally moved into a starting role in 2005.
For those keeping record, Taylor played a major role in the Steelers winning Super Bowl XL. First he had an interception in the AFC championship game to help change the way the game would flow, and then pitted against the opponents top receiver, this time Darrel Jackson. All he did was make an interception and it pretty much sealed the Steelers’ first Lombardi since the 1970′s.
“I knew they were going to come at me with him,” Taylor said. “Going into the game, I knew that was the game plan. It was cool. I’m always ready for a challenge. I put myself in a position to make plays. I made a play and we scored off that drive.”
Taylor shows his swag on the field, but rarely do you here him taking credit for things. Perhaps some of that humility comes from the respect he has for defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau.
“He’s a father figure to everybody,” cornerback Ike Taylor said. “You won’t find another guy who is Coach LeBeau. A guy of his stature, he’s very laid-back, real cool, real collected. Usually, you see those guys and they have egos. There’s not one cell in his body that has a bad ego. Very humble.”
There is more to Taylor than just shutting down receivers. During the off season when he isn’t training, he works with youths at his football camp. Designed to teach youths skills on the field, he also helps them develop personally off the field. Taylor also works with the elderly, and has helped with the American Red Cross in their emergency preparedness program.
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Matt Pawlikowski is a veteran journalist covering all things Steelers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.