After a rocky start to his professional career, former Brandywine, Md.-based Gwynn Park High School alumnus Phil Taylor Sr., once a first round pick for the Cleveland Browns, got a second wind with his hometown team.
The Clinton, Md. native was selected 21st overall by the Browns in the 2011 NFL Draft after playing for Penn State University where his numerous altercations lead former head coach Joe Paterno to remove Taylor from the team.
Former Gwynn Park High School standout Phil Taylor Sr. takes down Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley during an NFL preseason match on August 19. (Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr.)
Taylor transferred to Baylor University in Texas, where he had a breakout junior season after he started nine games and accounted for 25 tackles, 2.5 sacks, an assisted sack, two blocked punts, and an interception. Cleveland felt he was the man for the job despite knowing of his off-field behavior earlier in his career.
Taylor signed a rookie deal for four years and $8.1 million.
He started all the regular season games during his rookie year posting 59 tackles, four sacks and accounted for one forced fumble. The six-foot-three, 343-pound lineman, was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team by the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) in 2011.
After battling with several knee injuries, the 29-year old struggled to stay on the field, and the Browns released him three years later. Now he has a chance of redeeming himself as a member of the Washington football team.
“Well, I’ll tell you, I was in Cincinnati for three years when he was in Cleveland, and I know what a force he can be at the nose,” Washington Head Coach Jay Gruden told the AFRO. “He was tough to deal with, he was. We had him for a workout, and I didn’t even know he was on the streets. His knee looked better. He was in good shape. He had a whole offseason and did some good things.”
Since joining the Washington NFL team, Taylor has made an impact as a domineering force on the defensive line during training camp and in the preseason. He has shown glimpses of what he can do when healthy after he busted through the trenches to take down Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley for a sack in a preseason match on Aug. 19.
“It was cool. You know, just getting back,” Taylor told the AFRO about his return to the county. “We still have to work on some things. I have to still work on some things. We will go in there tomorrow and look at things and move forward to Cincinnati.”
Taylor racked up 77 tackles and 10 sacks during his senior year at Gwynn Park High School leading his team to an undefeated regular season in 2005. “It is going good, and I’m just taking it day by day,” Taylor said. “We have a good group here and we all gel, we’re just going out there and fighting for our brothers. You have just to go out there and do what you have to do. It is going to be a grind; that is the nature of the beast in the NFL.”