JOHNSON CITY — Former East Tennessee State player and assistant coach Billy Taylor is coming home.
New Buccaneers football coach Carl Torbush announced Monday that Taylor is returning to Johnson City to help launch the university’s reinstated program.
Taylor will return to the role of defensive coordinator at ETSU — the same position he held for the Bucs 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 in a statement from the university. “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 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 played for the Bucs from 1983-87 before serving in a coaching capacity from 1997-2003.
“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,” Taylor said. “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.”
During his five seasons at Tennessee 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 Ohio Valley Conference title, Taylor’s Golden Eagles 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.
He also served as associate head coach at Tennessee Tech while directing the team’s inside linebackers. He joined the staff in Cookeville on Jan. 29, 2008. Three years ago, the Golden Eagles were first in the OVC in turnover margin, and two years ago, the Tennessee Tech defense ranked second in the OVC in interceptions and turnover margin.
The 48-year-old Taylor left Chattanooga for Tennessee Tech after three seasons as the Mocs’ defensive coordinator. He joined the Chattanooga 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 seasons (2002-04). His Bucs 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.
Taylor 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.
He 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.