N.C. State Football

Wolfpack walk-on QB Taylor makes the most of opportunity

jgiglio@newsobserver.comSeptember 5, 2013 

— Freshman quarterback Josh Taylor’s name is almost always associated with the word “but.”

“He doesn’t have the greatest arm,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said.

But …

“He’s not very big,” Doeren said.

But …

Taylor, who’s listed at 5-11 and 185 pounds, is a walk-on from New Bern, who finds himself as one of N.C. State’s two backup quarterbacks for Saturday’s game against Richmond.

And the reason is that what follows the “but” matters more than what precedes it to Doeren.

“He’s fast and he’s tough and he’s a winner,” Doeren said.

With starter Brandon Mitchell out four to six weeks with a foot injury, junior Pete Thomas will start against the Spiders with Taylor and fellow freshman Bryant Shirreffs listed as backups.

Doeren used Taylor and Shirreffs in the Wolfpack’s 40-14 season-opening win over Louisiana Tech last Saturday.

It’s a position Taylor had hoped he could be in after a stellar career at New Bern High but wasn’t sure it would happen and certainly not this soon.

Taylor went into the opener thinking he would redshirt this season.

“Once I saw Brandon go down, I was thinking there might be a chance,” Taylor said.

Taylor won 42 games at New Bern and led the Bears to the 4A state title as a senior but he didn’t get a Division I scholarship offer. He’s a preferred walk-on with the Wolfpack.

Some in-state Division II programs, Catawba and UNC Pembroke, were interested.

“Nobody wanted him, but I’m glad we got him,” junior running back Tony Creecy said. “He’s really good. He’s really underestimated because of his size.”

N.C. State found Taylor while assistant Des Kitchings recruited receiver Bra’Lon Cherry from New Bern. Doeren watched the tape of the 4A state title game. Taylor was the MVP after he led his team on an 80-yard game-winning drive in the final minute for a 39-38 win over Indian Trail Porter Ridge.

“I didn’t want to settle for Division II, no offense to those schools,” Taylor said. “I wanted to work my way (at N.C. State) and then if didn’t work out maybe go somewhere.”

The poise in the title game, the track record at New Bern in a spread offense (he ran for 1,159 yards and threw for 2,665 last season in 15 games and finished his career with 130 total touchdowns) was enough to sell Doeren, who had success at Northern Illinois with running quarterbacks.

“When we got here and watched his film, he was just a football player,” Doeren said. “He’s got the intangibles that excite you. He’s one of those guys that just finds a way to get things done.”

The 42 total touchdowns as a senior at New Bern were not enough to overcome his perceived lack of size and eliminate the “buts,” but enough to motivate Taylor.

“It’s fuel to my fire, it makes me play harder,” Taylor said.

While Shirreffs played in the first half against Louisiana Tech, and ran nine times for 34 yards out of a “wildcat” package, Taylor played two series in the fourth quarter, one of which ended with a 24-yard field goal by Nik Sade.

Taylor didn’t attempt a pass and he had one rushing attempt for no yards. Given his skill set, though, Taylor is likely the next man up to run packages outside the wildcat if something happens to Thomas.

Taylor said he understands the playbook more since practice started and will do what Doeren and offensive coordinator Matt Canada want against Richmond and while Mitchell is out.

“I think I’ve come a long way,” Taylor said.

The same can be said for the walk-on’s journey up the depth chart.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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