ETSU head football coach Carl Torbush announced on July 29 that former ETSU player and assistant coach Billy Taylor will be coming home to Johnson City to help launch the university’s reinstated football program.
Taylor will return to the role of defensive coordinator at ETSU – the same position he held for the Buccaneers during the 2002 and 2003 seasons – while also coaching the new program’s linebackers. Torbush said Taylor, who has spent the last five seasons as a defensive coordinator at Tennessee Tech, is a perfect fit for the upstart Buccaneers.
“I am tremendously excited to have Billy Taylor become our first assistant coach hire here at ETSU,” Torbush said. “It’s really amazing that he was here when the program was dropped, and now he will be here when the program is brought back. No one bleeds blue and gold more than Billy. He grew up in Morristown, played and coached at ETSU, and recruited the state of Tennessee, all of which make him a great asset and a perfect fit for our program.
“I received nothing but glowing recommendations from every head coach he has been with over the years. And Billy’s morals, values, personality and coaching experience are a perfect for what I believe a football coach at ETSU should stand for. No one will represent ETSU any better and Billy will help us get to where we want to be with this program – which is competing for Southern Conference championships.”
Taylor said returning to ETSU is surreal.
“I am so thankful that Coach Torbush has asked me to be on his staff and so very excited about coming back home to East Tennessee State University,” said Taylor, who played for the Bucs from 1983 to 1987 before serving in a coaching capacity from 1997 to 2003. “ETSU football is part of my DNA and it means so much to be here during the start of our new program. To once again be an active member of the ETSU football team is an answer to prayer and is a dream come true.”
“I just can't wait to get started. It’s going to be such a great feeling walking into high schools wearing blue and gold colors with ETSU embroidered on my shirts. It’s been a long time since I have had that privilege and it is something that I take great pride in.”
Taylor also said he looks forward to bringing the ETSU family together – especially getting football alumni back in the fold.
"I want to reconnect with the ETSU community and with our football alumni,” Taylor said. “I hope I can be a small part of getting more of us old Bucs involved with the program on both a personal and financial level. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work building this team and getting ready for 2015. It will be here before we know it.”
During his five seasons at Tech, Taylor and his coaching staff installed the 3-4 system and had a huge impact on the team’s championship fortunes in 2011. On the way to the OVC title, Taylor’s Golden Eagle defense ranked first in the league in total defense and rushing defense, and second in scoring defense. Last year’s team also ranked second in pass efficiency defense, third in interceptions and fourth in pass defense.
While at Tech, he also served as associate head coach, while directing the team’s inside linebackers. He joined the staff in Cookeville back on Jan. 29, 2008. Three years ago, the Golden Eagles were first in the Ohio Valley Conference in turnover margin, and two years ago, the Tech defense ranked second in the OVC in interceptions and turnover margin.
Taylor, 48, came to Tech from Chattanooga, where he was the Mocs’ defensive coordinator for three seasons. Taylor joined the UTC staff following the 2004 season, filling the role of defensive coordinator while also coaching the inside linebackers. Prior to his arrival at UTC, Taylor served as Elon’s defensive coordinator and also coached inside linebackers for one year in 2004.
Nearly all of Taylor’s collegiate coaching career prior to Tech was within the Southern Conference – working at both ETSU and Wofford. Taylor worked at ETSU from 1997 to 2003, coaching linebackers. He served five years as the recruiting coordinator and the final two as the defensive coordinator.
Taylor-coached defenses at ETSU and Elon forced an incredible 92 takeaways in three years from 2002 to 2004. His Buccaneer defensive unit led the SoCon in 2002 and 2003, and the Phoenix ranked second in the league in takeaways in 2004 with 25. His 2003 ETSU defense ranked among the top 30 in the nation in eight different defensive categories.
The Morristown, Tenn., native was an assistant coach at Wofford from 1991-96, working as the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at Southern Mississippi in 1989 and 1990.
Taylor earned a degree in Mass Communications from ETSU in 1988. He was a three-year starter as an outside linebacker for the Bucs and was voted team captain his senior year in 1987.
He is married to the former Kristine Renz of Easley, S.C., and the couple has two children, Mikaelah Jean, 15, and McKenzie, 12.