Reese Taylor was the man at Ben Davis High School. He was faster, smarter, just plain better than pretty much everyone else on the field. He was a star quarterback, leading the Giants as a senior in 2017 to an undefeated season that culminated in a state championship. Taylor, getting ready for his sophomore season at Indiana University, hasn’t been all he was in high school, but at the same time he’s also become more than that.
The Hoosiers recruited Taylor as a defensive back. His 5-foot-11, 183-pound frame probably wouldn’t translate well to the quarterback position in the Big Ten, but Indiana’s coaching staff knew they were getting an athlete, someone who could move around on the field wherever and whenever needed.
It only took two weeks into the season before Taylor moved to offense, where he saw time at running back and receiver. He rushed for 83 yards, caught 28 passes for 174 yards, returned three kicks and had seven tackles on the defensive side of the ball. Because of injuries, Taylor was the team’s backup quarterback for the final four games of the season.
“It’s not hard to adjust,” Taylor said of going from being a star quarterback to a player who moves around a lot. “I just gotta work my way back up to where I was. I feel like everybody starts at the bottom. You gotta work your way up.”
Before his freshman season, players chose one word for the season — something to describe them, work toward, etc. — and Taylor chose “adapt.” He said football and life are both about learning how to adapt.
Mike Kirschner, a long-time head coach at Ben Davis, said he’s not surprised Taylor has made that adjustment. He said the Giants actually had a special defensive package where Taylor would go in at defensive back if they needed it. To be clear, Kirschner was saying his starting quarterback — the player who won Indiana Mr. Football in 2017 — was one of the best defensive players on the team, and he would have gone in if the team needed him there.
“I’m still not convinced I won’t see him playing on Sundays,” said Kirschner, who left Ben Davis after the 2017 season and is now the head coach at Mt. Vernon High School in Fortville.
Kirschner, who’s coached players who went on to the NFL, said Taylor was “by far” the best athlete he’d ever had.
Taylor, known for blazing speed and being able to whip the ball all over the field, made his lasting impact on Indiana high school football when he led Ben Davis to a 63-14 drubbing of Penn High School (Mishawaka) in the 6A state title game. He totaled 471 yards of offense and accounted for eight touchdowns. He didn’t play the final eight minutes and got to leave his final game at Ben Davis to a standing ovation.
The communication in college is more detailed, and there was a lot more to learn as he bounced around to different positions last season. But Taylor, who’s made the move back to defense for the coming season, said the high school game prepared him for what he’s facing at Indiana now.
“Football is football,” he said. “The competition is just gonna get better and harder. Ben Davis prepped me for college difficulty and adversity. But like I said, football is football.”
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.