On July 29, 2013, the ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced that former Buccaneer player and assistant coach Billy Taylor will come home to Johnson City to help launch the university’s reinstated football program.
Taylor has lifted the Bucs to new heights in the five-year span as he resumed his role of defensive coordinator for the 2015 season. Taylor is now entering his sixth consecutive season with the Bucs following the 2019 campaign. Taylor also served as the defensive coordinator during the 2002 and 2003 seasons before the sport was discontinued until 2015.
The 2019 season brought a strong defensive core into the spotlight as the Bucs allowed the 12th fewest passing yards in all of FCS football with 170.3 yards per game. ETSU’s defense recorded 11 turnovers, including seven interceptions. The Bucs were led defensively by Artevius Smith with 89 tackles, five interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Individually, the 2019 season saw three different players receive All-SoCon honors: Donovan Manuel, Nasir Player and Smith. In his five seasons thus far, Taylor has coached 15 All-SoCon honorees and eight All-American winners.
Through the first five seasons in the Taylor Era, the Bucs have accounted for 4,203 tackles, 324 tackles for loss, 102 sacks, 37 fumble recoveries, 34 interceptions and 32 forced fumbles.
The 2018 defense proved to be one of the strongest in the conference, allowing just 351.2 yards per game. The Bucs also yielded just 132.3 rushing yards per game, ranking fourth-fewest rushing yards allowed in a single season in ETSU history. The 2018 squad also picked off 15 passes, ranking 18th in FCS football. The charge was led by Tyree Robinson with six interceptions, while one of the top all-time defenders in Dylan Weigel led the team in tackles with 95. The team also led the conference in defensive touchdowns (3), ranking 15th in all of FCS football.
Taylor has coached players such as Weigel who ranks third all-time in ETSU history for career tackles with 420. Weigel was a two-time All-SoCon honoree as well as a HERO Sports All-American in 2018. Weigel led all FCS players in solo tackles in 2015 with 79, becoming a finalist for the FCS Freshman of the Year award. Weigel also ranks eighth in school history in tackles for loss with 32.5. In addition to Weigel, Taylor has coached Player who finished his season with 40 tackles for loss (fifth-most in ETSU history) as well as 182 career tackles. Player is a three-time All-SoCon winner and was named the 2019 Preseason SoCon Defensive Player of the Year. Player has also been named to three All-American teams. In 2017, Player recorded the fourth-most sacks in a single season with seven.
Prior to coming back to Johnson City, Taylor spent five seasons at Tennessee Tech. 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. The 2012 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. In 2010 the Golden Eagles were first in the Ohio Valley Conference in turnover margin and in 2011 the Tech defense ranked second in the OVC in interceptions and turnover margin.
Taylor arrived at Tennessee 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 Tennessee 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, and McKenzie.