By Gary Boskovich
Carmel native Collin Taylor started playing football in the fourth grade. He participated in other sports too, but once he got to high school, he realized that football was the sport he wanted to concentrate on.
“After my freshman year of football at Carmel High School, I had a coach come up and say some things that I haven’t heard a coach tell me before. The coach said if you dedicate yourself to this and work really hard, you can be a really good football player,” Taylor said.
He was a walk-on at Indiana University where he played sparingly as receiver and later switched to safety.
His willingness to work hard and persevere during rough times has worked out good for Taylor. He is now a receiver for the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League and ranks third on the team with 80 receptions and just shy of 1,000 total receiving yards. He’s also scored the third most points on the team for position players. That’s not all. Taylor does a little bit of everything for the Gladiators including spending time at running back and playing on defense. The team clearly values his versatility.
Taylor is especially proud of the team’s accomplishments this season. The Gladiators finished the season at 17-1, secured the number one seed, and will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They set an Arena League record for most wins in a regular season.
“We want to get the Arena Bowl (championship) ring in three weeks, but this team has already made some history coming into the playoffs here so it’s been a wild ride,” Taylor said.
His journey to Cleveland wasn’t a direct line from IU however. Taylor had stints with the Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Des Moines franchises before landing with the Gladiators. He’s played professionally for five years, spending four years in the Arena League and one year in Reading, PA playing in the Indoor Football League.
With a two-year contract with Cleveland in hand; Taylor is comfortable with his current team and glad to be closer to his family in Carmel. However, securing a roster spot on an Arena League team is no different from the NFL or Canadian Football Leagues. Competition is fierce and players are often battling opposite former NFL players. “There’s really good competition in this league. I’m playing against defensive backs who’ve played in the NFL, I’m playing with receivers who have been on NFL teams,” said Taylor.
When asked about his biggest thrill playing professionally thus far Taylor said: “Every time I go out there I know the opportunity that I’m given and I know how many people would like to be in the spot that I’m in. I play every game like it’s my last. Just being able to be out there with (my teammates), build these relationships, and just go out every week and essentially go to war with these guys next to me.”
An added bonus for Taylor is having home games in Cleveland, which offers the opportunity for his mother, father, and extended family to see him play.
“I love being able to look up in the stands and see my family there. I’ve been able to literally run up into the stands and celebrate with my family which has been absolutely incredible,” Taylor said.
Taylor intends to keep playing for as long as he can and as long as he remains healthy. Once his playing days are over, he wants to get into the fitness industry and perhaps open up a gym of his own.