From Texas To California, Taylor A Success At Stanford

by Keyon Johnson

From Mansfield, Texas, (Mansfield High) to Palo Alto, Calif., (Stanford University) Stepfan Taylor has traveled across the country on a mission to show audiences another reason why the country should take notice of the Stanford Cardinal football team.

Taylor is a tough running back that has the ability to run by defenders but prefers to run through them. Taylor is more than just any other running back though, as his really unique personality shows up once his daily school and football responsibilities are completed.

"On the field I take pride in getting the business done and do the right things," Taylor said. "Off the field I am kind of goofy so to speak, I have a sense of humor."

After speaking with Taylor for a short time or looking up some of his music videos and video blogs on YouTube, you can get a feel for that sense of humor, as he enjoys joking around and entertaining the company he keeps. This probably comes from him being the youngest person as he was growing up. Making people laugh and easing stressful situations was one thing that he could do to find a way to hang out with his older cousins and play sports. His older cousins Nick and Norman Norwood, who were two of his biggest inspirations, would always bring him around to play sports with them.
 
"My mom [Skyler] and my cousins inspired me a lot," Taylor said. "Especially my two older cousins Nick and Norman, who I looked at as my brothers, would always push me hard. I always played pick up games with them and their friends. They are 8 years older than me and they pushed me to do the best and never let me fail."

Taylor believes in balance between academics, football and social life. This balance was one of the reasons why he ended up at Stanford. Coming off a great senior high school season, Taylor had plenty of choices on where he wanted to further his education and football career.

"My counselor told me to check Stanford out," Taylor said. "So I looked at the website and decided to take a visit. When I arrived, the weather was like 65 degrees and back home the weather was like 105 degrees, so that started it off good. Stanford has the total package as far as academics as well as providing the opportunity to play for a BCS [conference]. It was a perfect match for me."

When Taylor met some of his future teammates and coaching staff, Taylor soon realized that Palo Alto and Stanford could be a home away from home for the next four years.

Once the decision was made to attend Stanford, Taylor had to get used to the system. After sitting and watching All-American Toby Gerhart his freshman year, Taylor got a feel for the hard work and dedication that was needed to help his team win.

In the 2010 off season and during camp, Taylor came in with the mindset of working hard and giving every snap his all. This has proven to be very helpful, as Taylor has become a viable complement to Andrew Luck. Taylor became the first sophomore running back to rush for over 1000 yards at Stanford since Darrin Nelson. For a running back by committee type of offense to surpass that feat is admirable, but Taylor diverts this achievement to his teammates.

"It's great to be in that category," Taylor said. "I owe it all to our offensive linemen, as well as the receivers and [Andrew] Luck too. He put the ball where it needs to be and that helps open up lanes, but the offensive line has been blocking well the entire season as well as the tight end."

Taylor, like the rest of the Stanford Cardinal football team has an opportunity that not many teams have. The team has reached the goal of playing in a BCS game, a goal that was set this summer. Now, on Monday, January 3, Stanford will compete against Virginia Tech in Miami for all the Oranges.

"This is big," Taylor said. "This is especially big for the seniors who came from being 1-11 to 11-1 and trying to make it 12-1. This game is huge playing on the big stage versus Virginia Tech. There will be a lot of family members there as well as fans so this will definitely be a big game for us. I look forward to playing in the game."

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