Over the offseason, Tennessee outside linebacker Darrell Taylor announced that he planned to return to UT for a fifth and final season in 2019. The redshirt junior has played in three of the four seasons he’s been on campus, and he decided to come back for a fifth.
What spurred on that decision? Because Taylor has some business to attend to.
Taylor posted a video on his Twitter account on Thursday that told why he decided to come back for his redshirt senior season at Tennessee. According to him, he has reasons both in the classroom and on the field.
“I came back because I have unfinished business,” Taylor said. “I’m going to be the first in my family to get my college degree. And because I want to put Tennessee back where it should be.”
Taylor is majoring in Recreation/Sports Management and has been at UT since the 2015-16 academic year. He redshirted on the field in his first year with the Vols in 2015 and appeared in eight games in his second year in 2016.
As a redshirt sophomore, Taylor stepped up and played a larger role. He appeared in 10 games and made seven starts in 2017, totaling 27 tackles, three sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.
Last year, though, Taylor had a breakout campaign, even if it was somewhat inconsistent.
In 2018, Taylor played in all 12 of Tennessee’s games and made nine starts. He made 36 tackles and had eight sacks, 11 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
On paper, those stats look great. But when you realize seven of his eight total sacks from last season came in two games, it’s easy to see that consistency was an issue at times for Taylor last season.
Taylor racked up three sacks against Georgia and four against Kentucky. Otherwise, he didn’t total a sack in any other game except for the Vols’ season finale against Vanderbilt.
Not only that, but Tennessee hasn’t exactly been at the top of the college football world while Taylor has been on campus.
Tennessee went 9-4 in both of Taylor’s first two seasons, but the Vols suffered the worst season in program history in his third year in 2017, going 4-8 overall and 0-8 in SEC play. Last season, Tennessee improved but only barely, going 5-7 overall and 2-6 in the conference.
Taylor not only wants to better himself, but he wants to help take Tennessee back to relevance. That won’t be achieved in one season, but Taylor and the rest of UT’s seniors can help solidify a culture for the future so Tennessee can accomplish that goal in the years to come.
At the end of the video, Taylor implored fans to attend the upcoming Orange & White Game on April 13th. Tennessee is billing the annual spring game as the “first game” of 2019 and the first game of the season for UT’s seniors.
The real first game of the 2019 season for Tennessee kicks off on August 31st when the Vols play host to Georgia State. But fans will get a glimpse of what Tennessee’s 2019 squad looks like during the Orange & White Game next weekend, and it’ll be the first step of finishing that business for Taylor.