Newly Drafted Dolphins Cornerback, Jamar Taylor Interview
In the 2013 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins used their 2nd round pick to select former Boise State Broncos, CB Jamar Taylor. He joined me for an exclusive one-on-one interview. Jamar Taylor talks about growing up in the rough area of San Diego, his time at Boise State, his off seasons, and what it was like to be drafted by the Dolphins. Taylor was a team captain throughout the entirety of his senior year, and earned First-Team All Mountain West Conference Honors after his senior season performance. He led a top passing defense at Boise State. Check out our interview.
Click here to download the audio interview with Miami Dolphins DB, Jamar Taylor.
Jamar Taylor : This is Jamar Taylor, former Boise State Bronco, new Miami Dolphin, and this is ProInterviews.org!
Max Strauss : You grew up in California. What was your high school football experience like?
Taylor : It was great. I went to Helix High School. The same school as Alex Smith, Reggie Bush, Todd Watkins, Karl Dorrell who used to be the former head coach at UCLA, Chuck Cecil, the defensive backs coach of the Rams. But it was a great experience. I was coached under coach Donnie Van Hook. It was a great four years there. I had a great freshman year. We kind of ran the table a lot in San Diego, between us and Oceanside. We went back forth and at it. It was great competition; I was playing against a lot of great players. Not a lot of guys got the big scholarship because San Diego sometimes gets overlooked by Los Angeles a lot, and Orange County because they’re over there by UCLA and USC. But, it was a great experience, though.
Strauss : Growing up, when did you face the most adversity growing up? And how do you feel it made you a better person and athlete today?
Taylor : Well, I grew up in San Diego, which everybody thinks as a vacation spot wherever you live at, just like Miami. But wherever you live at there is always some type of rough area.
But I grew up in Southeast San Diego with four of my cousins. Three ended up gang-banging, and one ended up dying from a gunshot. That was probably the hardest experience for me when I was in high school. That really turned my life around. My dad stopped making me go to my grandma’s house.
He made me focus more on school and football and things like that. I actually wanted to quit football after my cousin got killed. That was definitely something I went through that was hard and that changed me because after that, my best friend Chris Peterson told me to keep playing football, so I kept playing. I met my mentor, Trey Young who had me up every morning at 4:30 to work out and at 3:30 in the evening to work out. So that’s something that changed my life, when my cousin died, I started focusing more on football and more on school and just staying out of trouble.
Strauss : Wow, that’s a lot you went through growing up. Did you have any major accomplishments from your time in high school football?
Taylor : Well, I got all-league every year, and I played varsity for three years, I was a three-year captain on Varsity, and I didn’t lose that many games. I was up for the San Diego Player of the Year Award so I had some okay accomplishments, I guess.
Strauss : You also ran track in high school too?
Taylor : My freshmen year, but then I quit and started focusing on football and that’s around the same time my cousin died and I met my mentor. He helped me focus on football and I worked out for football all-year long.
Strauss : What was the whole recruiting experience like for you?
Taylor : Well, I wasn’t really recruited a lot. A lot of schools wanted me to move to safety, at least for [at the time] the Pac-10 teams. I thought I was going to go to University of Southern California, but I pulled my hamstring at the camp.
I came up to Boise and fell in love with it. They had a coach named Marcel Yates who said he wanted to be the best defensive back coach and I told him I wanted to be the best defensive back in the nation and he said if I wanted that I needed to go here [Boise St.]. I missed out on the opportunity because my dad wanted me to wait and see what opened up. Everyone in California wants to go to a Pac-10 school, so I waited and Boise stuck it out with me. Coach Pete, Coach Kwiatkowski, the DC, and Coach Yates believed in me and really wanted me there. For those guys to show their interest in me, and to show so much faith in me, and have so much interest in me. I just told my dad I am not waiting anymore and I am committing because that’s where I wanted to go.
Strauss : That’s interesting that you took on that mindset and you also got playing time early on at Boise State. What was your transition like?
Taylor : I think my transition was good. I got kind of thrown in the fire a little bit. Our first practice we were out there doing 7 on 7’s and 1 on 1’s. At first you go up there with the veterans, and it was rough at first, but I made some plays and they made some plays and doing that helped me transition before camp. When we got into camp, Coach Yates would throw me in there with the 1st team every once in a while, and I ended up playing as a true freshman.
But, it was a crazy experience. The game was faster, the playbook was wider; there were a lot of different plays and things like that, but I picked it up well and had some great guys like Kyle Wilson and Brandon Thompson who helped me out. I think the transition went smoother than I thought it was going to go.
Strauss : You mentioned playing with the first team. That’s a lot to keep you motivated especially in the weight room. How much playing time did you get on special teams in your career and what was that like?
Taylor : Well, my freshman year, that’s really where I made most of my money (laughs). I made most of my tackles on kickoffs. I played it a lot my freshman and sophomore year and my junior year until I got hurt. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot on special teams. Even though I didn’t play on it as much my senior year, I still paid attention. Coach kept a lot of the younger guys on the field, but I still paid attention. I love special teams because it’s something that people don’t really pay attention to, but it’s somewhere where you can beat another team. It’s the ultimate team position.
Strauss : What was it like for you to step on the field for your first college start?
Taylor : I wouldn’t say I was nervous. It was against Virginia Tech. I had played my freshman year so it wasn’t really nerves. I had a little bit of the jitters, but I think it was more me being anxious to play. My first play, I had bad eyes and they ran a flea flicker and the guy ran past me and that was a horrible play. I had the jitters, that first game against Virginia Tech was crazy. I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life, but overall I had a good game. I had a great stop on third down in the fourth quarter and forced them to punt and that’s when Kellen Moore went down for the final drive. It was definitely a good game and a good experience.
Strauss : Getting a lot of playing time is always great. Was there a specific game throughout your career at Boise State that was your favorite?
Taylor : I didn’t have a favorite game at first. Originally, it was the San Jose State game where I had my first interception, but I think now it’s our bowl game last year against Washington. Because I played great in my last game and we went out with a bang. It was one of my best overall games. It came down to the final field goal, but to go out as a champion as a senior, that was really special and my most memorable game.
Strauss : Watching film on you in college, you’re not someone to shy away from contact. You actually bump receivers all the time and make plays in the backfield. How would you describe yourself as a player at Boise State?
Taylor : I guess my style of play is “chippy”. I play with attitude and, like you said, not shying away from tackles, I think that’s just going back to me growing up and playing with my cousins. Even in pop warner, if you were afraid to tackle, you weren’t going to play. Tough coaching builds you into that type of player. I’m more a chippy player. I like to press receivers, but at the same time I like playing off. I just try to do whatever my team asks of me, and make sure I do it to the best of my abilities, so I know they can count on me.
Strauss : What is it like playing on the blue field at Boise State?
Taylor : The blue is something unique. It’s really one of a kind and that’s been my home for the past five years. Our fans are amazing. The turf is one of a kind. I always tell everybody, it’s just grass, it’s just turf. When you’re a little kid you play on gravel and dirt, you just play football. I think a lot of people over-think it too much. It’s just lining up, and playing football and you either can or you can’t.
Strauss : Transitioning from junior to senior year is very crucial. It shows how much they want to improve and get better when they’re still doing it senior year. What was that offseason like for you?
Taylor : Well I got hurt four games my junior year, but I took every offseason approach the same way. I work hard at perfecting my craft, whether I was running hills, doing footwork or watching film I was always trying to get better. I think after being hurt for four games, my thing was just to get healthy and then make sure I didn’t over-train. It was watching more in the film room, and about taking care of my body and things like that. I always take every offseason seriously. I think God really blessed me this past year with my great season. It also helped having a coach like Jimmy Lake coming from Tampa Bay who installed some things in our defense that put me in good position to make plays.
Strauss : You were a team captain. Talk about that experience.
Taylor : Being the team captain, that was something put on by Coach Pete and some of the players. It was a great thing because I think it made me grow up and realize I had an eye on me at all times. I had to take a lot of people under my wing and make sure that I was always working and practicing the hardest. We always talked about how there can’t be bad days if you’re a leader. It was a great responsibility that helped me grow up as a player and as a person and taught me a lot about life. It also helped me connect with Coach Pete because we talked about everything.
Strauss : What was it like being in a pass defense and being the main focus of it? (continued question)
Taylor : Since I had been here, we always had a good defensive back unit. We kind of went downhill during my junior year when both Darrell and I got hurt. This year, we only gave up about three touchdowns. It was great being a part of a defense like that and we had a great coach in Jimmy Lake and great guys in the secondary. But it all started up front and with our great defensive coordinator. Being the leader back there was good. Darrell and I always tried to help out our younger guys and also communicate, so we could make plays.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite play that sticks out from your time over at Boise State?
Taylor : My favorite play was probably during my junior year against Fresno State when I jumped over one of my good friends from back home who we played pop-warner together, and I jumped over him and intercepted the ball on third down. That was probably my favorite play, it was just a crazy interception. I didn’t think it was going to happen, but yeah, it happened.
Strauss : What was your training experience like this offseason in Miami?
Taylor : It was good. I met some great guys and didn’t really know what to expect when I came down to Florida. I just heard Pete Bommarito was a good trainer. There were a lot of guys who were humbled and ready to work. I worked out with guys like Nick Moody [FSU], Dan Buckner [Arizona], Junior Collins [Virginia Tech], Roy Roundtree [Michigan], just a ton of guys.
It was a great experience. Pete let us get after it whether it was running or lifting. I did it because of the great weather and to get used to the eastern time zone because I knew the combine was going to be that too. It was a great experience and it wasn’t like it was a grind. It felt like it was going slow, but I look back and it went fast. From training there, to the Senior Bowl, to coming back and training hard three weeks for the combine. It was definitely a grind, but I enjoyed it. Pete definitely got me right down there.
Strauss : At the Combine, that’s a huge stage for you to show off what you got. Could you talk about the Combine? I know you were a top performer in the 40-yard dash, bench press, and in the 20 yard shuttle.
Taylor : The Combine definitely was a grind. I think my plane left at 5:30 on that Friday and got there, then you go straight to the hospital and they are picking on you doing and doing all kinds of things. Then you meet with teams and then try to make it back to your training facility and try to eat right and healthy.
The next morning, we woke up at 3:30, me and B.W. Webb [roommate] to go drug test and then we were up till 12:30. Then the next day, I was up early for media I had missed for medical reports, then we had to go bench and stuff. Then the next day was the day to run. I was kind of nervous. I called my pastor and had him pray for me as well as a lot of my teammates.
I knew I was going to run a 4.3 something, I just didn’t know if it was going to be high or low. I tripped on my first one, so I had to walk back and re-group. My second one was way faster, I prayed to God and he answered my prayers. I did good in the DB drills because that’s everyday stuff right there. Then we went to the shuttle and your legs are dead, by then from all the other drills. You just try to knock it out and finish up was fast as you can and then, you head straight to the airport. It was definitely a busy experience and it was definitely a blessing to be invited there because I know a lot of people who would die to be there.
Strauss : If someone asked you to compare your game to someone in the NFL, who would you say? Follow @ProInterviews
Taylor : I don’t know. I like to compare my game a lot to Darrelle Revis. I’m not as patient as him in my press game. I have been in the past, but I try to switch it up a lot. That’s definitely someone I watch, and try to mimic a lot. The guy is just so smart, and he’s not afraid to tackle, and he’s just so patient.
Strauss : What was your whole Draft weekend like?
Taylor : My agent thought I was going to go on Thursday. It was kind of frustrating when it ended that day, but I had great support from my family, my agent, and my girlfriend.
We woke up on Friday and said today is going to be a better day. Some teams called and said they were going to get me, and then, they passed on me. I was getting frustrated, but next thing I knew, my phone was ringing. It was a blessing from God for the Dolphins and Jeff Ireland to give me a chance to come down there. It was like I got the monkey off my back.
Strauss : You were also drafted in the third round with cornerback, Will Davis. Do you have a relationship with him at all?
Taylor : Will and I were at the Senior Bowl with each other where we got to know each other a little bit. He’s a great guy though, someone that definitely took over the WAC. He’s an awesome player and has an awesome heart. We were just talking about what we’re going to do for the team and how we’re going to help each other out. Hopefully, we can get through hard times as rookies and make plays for the Dolphins, so win some ball games.
Strauss : You’re expected to contribute immediately for the Dolphins. What are your expectations?
Taylor : My plan is to come in and learn and pick all the coaches brains until they get sick of me. Just try to learn as much as I can about the NFL, because it’s so much different game than college. At the same time, I just want to have fun and make plays. Sometimes, a lot of people over-think it, but I just want to come in, learn, and ball-out to help my team win.
Strauss : You’ve been to Miami before. Do you plan on going to other Miami sporting events? Are you going to do anything else down in Miami?
Taylor : When I’m down in Miami, I’m all football. Even when I was at Boise, I’m on football 99% of the time. I will definitely be studying the playbook a lot. When I’m away from football, I’ll probably be talking to my family and my girlfriend if they’re not down there with me.
I’m not really a person who likes to be in the public eye a lot. I’ll probably come out a little bit for a Heat game or something like that if my teammates want to go, but most of the time I’ll be home studying my playbook and resting my body and trying to get ready for the next football game.
Strauss : Maybe you’ll go to a Hurricanes game or something…
Taylor : Definitely. The Canes were my favorite team growing up, so I’ll check out a “U” game one day.
Strauss : If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?
Taylor : Haha… That’s funny. I’ll have to ask my girlfriend, that’s kind of a weird question… (asks girlfriend). I don’t know. That’s a weird question. I don’t think I can answer that question. If its my favorite flavor, it’d be strawberry.
Strauss : Why?
Taylor : I don’t know man. I don’t even have a reason right now.
Strauss : If someone wants to play in the NFL, what’s the best advice you can give them?
Taylor : People say this a lot, but never let someone tell you what you can’t do. Always work to be the best no matter what the circumstance is, no matter if someone puts you down, or if you’re tired. Work to be the best. As long as you keep faith in God and keep working hard, the sky is the limit.
Strauss : Thank you so much for your time Jamar. I really appreciate it.
Taylor : No problem.