Today is July 22, 2019, which means we are officially just 40 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. Yesterday, we profiled No. 41, George DelRicco, a former three-year starter who led the Hokies in tackles during the 1994 and 1995 seasons.
For No. 40, we look back at Ben Taylor, arguably one of the best linebackers in Virginia Tech history. Taylor arrived at Virginia Tech in 1997 as three-star linebacker from Bellaire, Oh., He was 6’3”, 200 pounds when he enrolled and redshirted his freshman season.
In 1998, the redshirt freshman played in every game, making 15 tackles and making a name for himself on special teams. In 1999, Taylor would move into the starting lineup, starting 10 games and playing in every game, and finished third on the team in tackles. He would also rack up five TFLs and one sack. Taylor also proved to be reliable in coverage, too. Taylor, Michael Hawkes and Jamel Smith were as outstanding of a linebacker trio as any in school history.
In his junior season of 2001, Taylor led the Hokies in tackles with 101 and started every game for a Virginia Tech team that finished 11-1 for a second consecutive season. Taylor also finished with seven TFLs, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions. The Hokies concluded the season with a blowout win over Clemson in the Gator Bowl. Taylor was named to the All-Big East team and also named as an honorable-mention All-American.
His career was far from finished as Taylor saved his best for his senior season of 2001. Taylor again led the Hokies in tackles with 121 and a whopping 18 TFLs. He also contributed 4.5 sacks, one interception and 13 QB hits. Taylor was a dominant linebacker Foster who dominated his side of the ball much like Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones did on offense. After the season, he was again a first-team All-Big East selection and also was named second-team All-American. He left Virginia Tech as one of the most decorated linebackers in school history.
Taylor would be selected in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft by his home-state Cleveland Browns. He spent four seasons with the Browns before spending his final season in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers. In five NFL seasons, Taylor finished with 218 career tackles.
He took his rightful place in the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2017 alongside Michael Vick.
After his playing career ended, Taylor went into public education. He was a health and physical education at Skyline High in Warren County (VA) for over four years before taking a similar position with Frederick County at Millbrook High. Taylor is also in his fifth season as a coach for Shenandoah University as he coaches wide receivers.
Hokies, what are your favorite memories of Ben Taylor?