When opportunity knocks, Ja’Sir Taylor answers.
The Asbury Park, New Jersey native has made a habit of shining in moments when all eyes are on him. Speaking to him on the Flippin’ the Birds Podcast, it became quickly evident that the young man would never take a chance to prove himself for granted. His career has been a cyclical string of calling his own number, and cashing in.
Growing up in Asbury Park, Ja’Sir was a kid that was always on the move:
When I was little . . . any time my mom, my grandma, my dad took their eyes off me, I was running around.”
His parents recognized early on that he had a propensity for sport. Ja’Sir played basketball, baseball, flag football and anything else that would keep him active. Always putting on for his neck of the woods, Taylor would eventually take his talents to Brick Township Highschool. It was the first game of his freshman year, and none of the locals were familiar with his name — but they were about to be. After putting on a show in his first game, it was only a matter of time before Ja’Sir was bumped to the varsity roster. Within six games, he was helping his high school on their way to winning a State Championship.
Being a talented player on both sides of the ball, offers came in early to play offense for Temple under Matt Rhule, now the Carolina Panthers Head Coach. Taylor was electric with the ball in his hands and his athleticism caught the eye of anyone who was paying attention. However, with Rhule leaving Philadelphia for Baylor, and a lot of the friends he had at Temple following suit, Ja’Sir decided to consider other options. It came in an unlikely fashion.
[Wake Forest] actually DM’d me on Twitter. I thought it was fake. I’d never even heard of Wake Forest, I had to look it up. Then next thing you know, three days later they were at my school.
The offer wasn’t to play offence however, the Demon Deacons coaching staff wanted Ja’Sir to play corner. Sitting in attendance of Brick Township’s playoff game, the Wake Forest scouts saw Taylor play both sides of the football and come down with an interception. Whether he knew it or not, it was the start of Taylor’s career as a defensive back. Yet another opportunity needing a response.
Speaking about his transition from offense to defense, he admitted it was tough to rewire his brain. He arrived on campus months later than his teammates, with only a few months to prepare for the upcoming season. However, playing both sides of the football also had it’s advantages, Ja’Sir started being able to leverage the little cues and nuances he had learned as a receiver. He was quickly catching up, and was chomping at the bit for a bigger opportunity.
My junior year, we were playing Florida State. I felt like I deserved more playing time. I said coach, I just need to play more, put me out there.
In that game, Taylor made his fair share of plays early on, but he saved his best moments for last. With the Seminoles marching down the field down 22-20 with time ticking down, they found themselves on fourth down within field goal range.
They threw the same route that they did earlier in the game. I was waiting on it.
Florida State did not convert that fourth down play, and they ended up missing the field goal. In betting on himself, Ja’Sir not only answered the call for himself, but for his team. This became a regular occurrence during Taylor’s college career. He was asked to cover talented receivers ranging from Dyami Brown to this year’s Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison. Regardless of who lines up across from him, Taylor brings the same energy:
When I come onto the field, I just turn it on. Even when I’m playing good receivers, who I know have high status . . . I let them know, first play. We gon’ work.
In his final year he was also asked to return kicks. He responded with a kick return touchdown and a 30.0 yard return average.
The moment I got into Wake Forest, I was begging to get the ball in my hands. It means a lot just being able to get some reps at special teams.
His outstanding play deservedly earned him an invite to the East West Shrine game, where Taylor had his first glimpse into the pros. Speaking on his mentality throughout the week of practice and into the game, Ja’Sir echoed his younger self:
I feel like I should be talked about more and get a little bit more respect. Everybody feels like that. I had to go out there and show it . . . It’s time for business.
The Shrine game for many prospects is a trial by fire. Fittingly, Taylor wasn’t backing down from any opportunity. He recalls jumping in any line he could get in in order to get reps in and showcase his talent.
A lot of people weren’t trying to hop into that nickel spot. So when it was open, I was out there.
It didn’t go unnoticed. Ja’Sir was named an All-Star by the coaching staff, and put on a show at the East West Shrine game.
It’s football man. I just made sure I made the most out of every opportunity.
Setting the table for his Pro Day on March 30th, Taylor’s play at the Shine game piqued the interest of multiple scouts. He said he had the opportunity to speak to representative from most of the 32 NFL teams and already has a workout booked.
NFL representatives certainly got the same feeling Bryan and I did speaking with Ja’Sir. Even in just a 30 minute conversation, we were impressed by his poise and his passion. Still, it’s always better to hear it from the player himself. When asked what type of player NFL teams would get if they drafted him, he responded:
I’m a very versatile player. I’m willing to play special teams, nickel, corner. I’m a business man, I’m a competitor. If I have the opportunity to play for the Eagles, [even if I don’t] make the roster, or get a [chance at a] starting spot, I will make the people ahead of me work harder, because each day I’m going to come in and work, grind. I’ll let them know that if they slip up one day, I’m going to pass them. It’ll be an overall better environment with me in your building.
Whatever opportunity comes knocking in the NFL, expect Ja’Sir to answer.
For those of you wondering, we asked what his favorite team was growing up.
Eagles. When things started to get a little serious and closer I don’t want to get my feelings involved . . . but I was an Eagles fan.