To say the offseason in Knoxville was hectic would be a serious understatement, it was downright turmoil on the hill. As players decided to leave Tennessee for a myriad of reasons, it was never a thought that Alontae Taylor seriously entertained. The senior had been through enough turnover, so there was no reason to do it again at a different spot. Another thing that kept him in Knoxville was a promise to his mother.
“As far as why did I stay, I’m the third in my family to go to college, and I told my mom that I would get my degree before I left. I tried to get that in three years last year, but it didn’t really work that way. That was one reason.”
Being from the State of Tennessee was the second reason he stayed in Knoxville and came back to lead this defense in 2021. Alontae is not one to walk away from a challenge, so helping Heupel get this program back on track was a task he was up for, especially for his home state.
“And the second reason was this is my state. I’m from the state of Tennessee, and the University of Tennessee means a lot to me. Wearing orange and white is a privilege and it’s bigger than me, and wearing that Power T on my chest is bigger than me. Staying here versus going somewhere else was never really too hard of a decision to make. I knew I wanted to stay at University of Tennessee, and I tried to keep as many here as I could. And those who left, I don’t have any hard feelings for those guys. I wish them the best.”
Not only has his leadership grown on the field, it continues to grow off the field, especially within the VOLeaders group.
“My leadership role has grown a lot since I was a freshman. Being part of the SEC Leadership Council, being vice president for SAC at the University of Tennessee, and going through a VOLeader program where it’s a yearlong program where you learn more about your leadership skills and ways you can grow as a leader.”
Taylor doesn’t view this season as a rebuilding year, but he definitely wants to leave it in better shape than when he came in.
“At the end of the day, college football is a thing where anything can happen, so I have a lot of faith in our team and a lot of faith in our coaches. I just pray that we trust in them and we just keep going as far as they want us to go”
Time will tell, as the season quickly approaches.