Trey Taylor's rise from Lone Star Legend to potential NFL Draft Pick

Mallory Hartley

Share or Save for Later

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Save to Favorites

FRISCO -- Trey Taylor is chasing history, seeking to become the first Air Force defensive back selected in the NFL Draft. But he's not out of his element at the East-West Shrine Bowl.

Partly because Taylor's returned to his hometown, competing at the Ford Center, where he shined for Frisco Lone Star. Mainly because Taylor's used to accomplishing what others thought he wouldn't.

"I love the question marks," Taylor said. "I love proving people wrong."

Taylor's been trophy hunting. An All-American fifth-year senior in 2023, he became the first player in Air Force history to win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back. Then, Taylor earned the Defender of the Nation award granted to a player from one of the service academies and top collegiate ROTC programs. Wednesday, he added the next plaque to an already crowded shelf when he was given the Pat Tillman Award for the player who best exemplifies character, intelligence, sportsmanship and service.

Glancing at his journey from a 1,000-foot view, he's the latest NFL-bound prospect from Lone Star's 2017 and 2018 teams. Linebacker Nick Bolton won the Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs last year. Wide receiver Marvin Mims plays for the Denver Broncos. Jaylan Ford is in this year's Draft after a standout career at Texas. 

But Lone Star head coach Jeff Rayburn and his staff knew Bolton and Mims were league-bound. Taylor's emergence took time. He was an undersized sophomore who didn't see Varsity action until his junior year. Then, he turned in two All-State seasons and broke the program record with seven interceptions in a season.

"His expectations for himself are so high," Rayburn said. "He was the best student, the best teammate, the best leader."

And for how good he was patrolling the defensive backfield, his motor never turned off for the third phase of the game - Special Teams. Rayburn remembers Taylor screaming off the edge constantly on the field-goal-block team, which he succeeded in during a Week Three game against Highland Park his senior year. The Rangers' leader made special teams cool. 

"He was such a game-changer in that other phase, and that kind of became a deal where people wanted to be like that," Rayburn said. "They saw how Trey changed the game and wanted to be on special teams."

Rayburn credits Trey's father, Tyree, as the most impactful person in his life. Tyree played linebacker at SMU from 1995-98 and quickly passed his football junkie-ism onto his son, watching film with him at six years old and coaching his youth football team, the FFL Hurricanes. Rayburn says some fathers push their kids (and the coaches) to be de facto stars. Tyree positively supported Trey in being the best he could be for the team.

"I had a football in my hands literally right after birth," Taylor said. "It was really cool being under him because my dad played on that college level. I put a lot of trust and faith in him because I knew I wanted to get into his shoes."

Now, back to those pesky question marks. Because the whispers Taylor faces today - about his top-end speed or if his production can translate to the NFL - are nothing new. And he hears them like he always has. His father's alma mater didn't offer Taylor after an illustrious high school career. His strong academic record got him nods to Yale, Princeton and Harvard, but no Power Five schools called.

Taylor didn't play a snap at Air Force for two years, redshirting in 2019 and opting out of the 2020 COVID season, so it didn't count toward his eligibility. That year, he watched the game from the outside looking in, trained in Frisco, and bulked up from 185 pounds to two bills. When he returned to Colorado Springs, he turned in three of the best seasons the program has seen. That journey made him a better man.

"Going to the Academy, they set me up in a really good way for life maturity-wise, the person I am today," Taylor said. "It instilled a lot of really good habits in me. I wouldn't give up for the world. I'm a much better person leaving than I entered."

So bring the question marks. Trey Taylor loves overcoming them. 

This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.

Sign In
Don't Miss Any Exclusive Coverage!

We've been the Bible of Texas football fans for 64 years. By joining the DCTF family you'll gain access to all of our exclusive content and have our magazines mailed to you!