|Year of Graduation:||1973-1976|
Coming out of high school in Cocoa Beach, Florida, Lee Taylor’s academic and athletic talents provided many options for his college future. A local friend who had played at Maryville College highly recommended this massive defensive end to come play for the Scots and learn from the legendary Boydson Baird, who had agreed to take over the football program after a 10 year hiatus. Luckily, this 2012 MC Wall of Fame inductee was convinced to bring his talents to the Highlands. From 1973-1976, Taylor put together one of the greatest complete football career that the Fighting Scots have ever seen.
Even though he was a first year player under Baird’s direction, this defensive lineman began to make an immediate impact on the field in the fall of 1973. It did not take long for the coaching staff to realize they had a special player in Taylor. Taylor’s defense held Hampden Sydney, a prolific scoring team, to only 11 points in his collegiate debut. His Scots posted three consecutive wins over Centre, Georgetown, and Randolph Macon to begin 3-1 on the season. His defense pitched a shutout against Bridgewater and the Scots finished their ’73 campaign 5-4 with a win over Rhodes 27-16.
Coach Baird finished his football coaching career on a winning note thanks to Lee’s freshman class. His 27th and final football coaching victory ranks him fourth in MC football history.
The program was handed over to new head coach Jim Jordan in 1974 and Lee was excited to play for his staff. Although Taylor had already made a name for himself as a standout freshman, he knew he had to work hard to prove himself to the new coaching staff. It did not take long to prove his skills on the line and as a leader were prevalent even just being a second year collegian. MC opened the season with their second consecutive win over Centre College 18-7. Lee’s defense held Centre, Bridgewater and Rhodes to only seven points each game, but the Scots finished the season 2-6. They finished the season on a two game losing streak, but look forward to the following fall with a year of experience under Coach Jordan’s direction.
In 1975, Jordan’s Scots had only a pair of seniors along with a variety of experience underclassmen to take on challenges on the gridiron. Tom Hyne, Don Surrency, and junior Lee Taylor were named team captains to help set a foundation for MC’s future success. MC’s offense throughout the year had only one game where they scored more than 11 points, putting tremendous pressure on the defense. The Scots finished 0-9 but Taylor and his teammates relish to this day the life lessons taught during that season and in the years to come. “When you lose like we did, it’s something that you never want to feel again and we were determined to change it for my senior season,” said Taylor. Lee and the Scots took their determination into the 1976 season with a vengeance and did what no one ever expected.
Following a 12 game losing streak, dating back to the 1974 season the will to win simply took over for Taylor and his teammates. A third win in Taylor’s career over Centre sparked one of the greatest turnarounds in MC history. A win over Hampden Sydney and a 63-2 thrashing of St.Leo was followed by a win over Millsaps, a shutout over Rhodes and a season and career ending win over Guilford by the score of 28-10. The team that was 0-9 only a year earlier finished 7-2.
Taylor stated,” What I am most proud of was that in 1976 we found a team that wanted to win. It set a foundation over the five seasons that anyone wearing the orange and garnet EXPECTED to win. The teams from 1976-1981 went 38-16-1 and we feel we were the foundation of that successful period in MC football.”
Upon graduation a semester early in 1976, Taylor went on to work for Hertz Truck rental right out of college. After being in and out of the truck rental and leasing business until 1990, Taylor started his own company called Truck Lube One where he was owner and vice president of sales. In 2006, Taylor sold his company to Bridgestone Tire and in 2007 he became president of the company Tire PM Plus. He is currently in his same position looking to take the business nationwide.
Ladies and gentlemen, one of the strongest leaders and defensive linemen in MC history, help me welcome Lee Taylor to the 2012 class of the Maryville College Wall of Fame.