Head Buster’ Taylor makes opponents pay

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 17, 2002

[12/15/02]Few who have been hit by D’Eldrick Taylor on the football field would argue with his nickname: The Head Buster.

It could be helmet buster, knee buster or back buster; the end result is that someone usually ended up lying on the ground in pain. Sometimes, it was even Taylor.

He tackled Warren Central’s Richmond Fields head to knee and woosily walked off the field. Against Horn Lake, he knocked the wind out of himself with a bone-crushing hit, a “good lick” as he called it.

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Maybe most impressive is the second year in a row that he broke his helmet with a hit.

Last season against Madison Central, Taylor laid out the MC quarterback on the sideline only to find his facemask was bent and needed to be shipped off to get repaired.

This season, after a huge hit, the plastic shell split down the middle, forcing Taylor into a new helmet, something VHS coach Alonzo Stevens said he has never seen.

“It’s natural instinct,” Taylor said with a grin. “I loved to hit last year, but I got more aggressive this season. I took on the motto of wanting to go out there and hurt somebody.”

His kamikaze style, knack for the football and leadership on a defense that searched all season for a leader has made Taylor as the 2002 Vicksburg Post Defensive Player of the Year.

“There’s no doubt he deserves this award,” Stevens said. “He’s not only one of the best players in the county, but in the state. Pound-for-pound he is one of the best. He’ll lay you out.”

It’s Taylor’s pounds, and more importantly his height, that have kept scouts from outside Mississippi from descending upon him. The hits will always be there, but at 5-foot, 10-inches tall, there is concern about his height.

Also a concern is Taylor’s health. The senior has battled nagging leg injuries for several years and was forced into a brace this season. He has since stopped playing basketball and was on crutches Tuesday.

Taylor had 121 tackles, was second in the county with five interceptions and had 20 tackles for loss. He spent some time at wide receiver, but missed playing time with nagging injuries.

He is being heavily recruited by the state’s Big Three universities. On Tuesday, he said he had scheduled official visits with Ole Miss, MSU and USM, but had yet to take one. Him wearing a State winter hat to his player of the year picture session was, “just because it’s cold out,” he said with a chuckle.