Getting accustomed to South Carolina State’s football culture is not the only mission this summer for new running back Justin Taylor.
The University of Kentucky transfer, who has four years of eligibility, is determined to do what’s necessary to make an immediate impact with the Bulldogs.
“Versatile and a lead back,” said Taylor about his role. “I’m here to get it. They know I’m here to get it and I’m here to help this team win.”
Before stepping foot in Orangeburg, the 5-10, 208-pound Atlanta native made it clear he would do more than lead by example. With last year’s leading rusher Jalen “Scoot” Simmons out following shoulder surgery and joining a team that had its worst showing under head coach Buddy Pough, Taylor has looked to inspire his fellow Bulldogs during summer workouts.
“So far, I’ve been in the weight room grinding with my team,” he said. “I give words of wisdom after we’re done working out. I tell them that I’m here for them. Whatever they need, I’ve got it for them. We’ve just been putting in the work together. I’ve been showing them that I’m here to help them.”
He’s especially tried to keep the offensive line motivated, pointing to the unit as key for S.C. State‘s offense rebounding from last year’s lackluster numbers. The group is also important in keeping starting quarterback Richard Cue productive and helping the Bulldogs re-establish a running game that has not produced a 1,000-yard rusher since Will Ford in 2009.
Fortunately for Taylor, he’s found teammates as motivated and focused on winning as those he left behind in Lexington, Ky. In what has become a rallying cry in recent years, Taylor also aspires to put another “number back up,” as in the year signifying a MEAC championship on the outside of the Oliver C. Dawson Stadium press box.
“They’re very motivated,” he said. “That’s what I love about South Carolina State. At Kentucky, it’s way different. They know that they’re D-1. These boys, they act like they’re at a D-1 level. They love it. They love to play football and they want to win. They’re trying to make up for the two years they had down and I can see they’re progressing pretty good.”
The biggest surprise for Taylor so far at S.C. State is the intense tone strength and conditioning coach John Williams has set for the players in workouts on the field and in the weight room.
“Day 1, we came out here grinding. It kind of shocked me. It shocked me real hard, but I love it. That’s what I love to be around.”
Taylor expects all the work put forth during summer workouts to reap benefits when preseason camp officially begins Aug. 4.
“A hard-hitting team on both sides of the ball,” he said. “The defense is still one of the best defenses in the MEAC and, on offense, we’re going to get there. We’re still working hard, but we’re going to get there.”
Season tickets on sale
The South Carolina State University Ticket Office is accepting applications for season tickets for the 2013 football season.
Three packages are available for purchase:
* Season football package — One reserved seat for all five home games — $130.
* Football/basketball package — One reserved seat for each of the home football and basketball games — $185.
* Youth/alumni football package — One general admission seat for all home football games for the classes of 2009-13 — $100.
* Also on sale are tickets for the game against North Carolina A&T at the Georgia Dome; tickets for the Palmetto City Classic against Benedict at Williams-Brice Stadium; tickets for the Atlanta Football Classic; season parking passes ($80) and basketball season tickets ($75).
S.C. State kicks off the regular season at home on Aug. 31 against Coastal Carolina. For more information, call 803-536-8579 or 1-800-298-9157.
Contact the writer: email@example.com or 803-533-5547. For more information about S.C. State athletics, read Grant’s blog “Following the Bulldogs” at thebulldogzone.com. Follow Grant on Twitter@TandDSports.