Six months ago, John Taylor stepped away from a crumpled SUV, lucky to be alive after he, three Utah State teammates and a friend were T-boned by a semi near Logan, Utah.
Taylor, a senior defensive tackle, fractured his nose and had a severe concussion. His football future was secondary. His friends were hurt, but thankfully, none had life-threatening injuries.
“It showed me how little football in the big perspective, because ever since I can remember, that was my life,” Taylor said. “It’s not everything. At first, I was upset I might not be able to play, but pretty quickly I thought if I never played a down, that’s OK, because I’m alive.”
On Tuesday, Taylor will finish his collegiate career at Albertsons Stadium in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Akron. He has played in all 12 games this season, with three starts, making 16 tackles.
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Junior defensive end Edmund Faimalo was another passenger, and has played in 11 games. Redshirt freshman linebacker Adewale Adeoye has not played this season but has been practicing, while senior defensive tackle Travis Seefeldt, the driver of the SUV, did not play this season but was granted a sixth season of eligibility Thursday.
“I don’t know if I can find the right words to do it justice, but reflecting on being there at the scene of the crash, the hospital, to now, seeing (Taylor and Faimalo) play, there’s not much more gratifying as a coach,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said. “It makes you love a little more.”
Taylor was released from the hospital two days after the June 26 crash, along with Adeoye, with Faimalo following two days afterward. Seefeldt spent nearly two weeks there. Before the season began, senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who knows a thing or two about facing difficulty with multiple knee injuries, was awed by his teammates’ resilience.
“It was pretty incredible,” he said. “You obviously never expect that sort of thing to happen off the field, but having them around is really special, inspires us.”
As he looks forward to his final game, Taylor doesn’t mind looking back and thinking how lucky he is to be in this position.
“Being able to come from that and play, let me enjoy my senior season, it’s made it even better,” Taylor said. “Seeing everyone come back, it’s been awesome. The whole thing was scary, when it happened and those days after, but it’s been great seeing how we’ve come out of it.”
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Utah State vs. Akron
▪ When: 1:30 p.m. Tuesday
▪ Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf), Boise
▪ TV: ESPN
▪ Records: Utah State 6-6, 5-3 MW; Akron 7-5, 5-3 MAC
▪ Coaches: Utah State, Matt Wells (25-15, third year); Akron, Terry Bowden (18-30, fourth year; 158-92-2, 22nd year overall)
▪ Series: First meeting
▪ Vegas line: Utah State by 6 1/2
▪ Tickets: $20-$90, at ticketmaster.com; $24 for FitOne Family Field Day (pre-game NFL combine-type event at 10:30 a.m., lunch and game ticket)
▪ Tuesday weather: High of 40 degrees, light rain expected (70 percent chance, per weather.com)
▪ Event: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Mash Bash at The Village in Meridian will be open to fans from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday