Player Profile -- Taylor McNamara|
Sept. 30, 2016
The Associated Press recently released their All-Time Top 25 Collegiate Football programs. Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Alabama and USC all graced the top five.
Only a small percentage of prep players ever have the opportunity to play football for storied programs such as these. Playing for two is much rarer. USC’s tight end, Taylor McNamara, is part of that tiny club. He initially called himself a Sooner, but eventually found his true home at Troy.
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After visiting Notre Dame, Washington, Oklahoma, Colorado and California, the highly recruited McNamara began his collegiate athletic career when he committed to play football in Norman, Okla.
“They had a very thin depth chart for my position at the time,” said McNamara. “I was excited about the school and the tradition. My parents told me I could go wherever I wanted and that ended up being the spot.”
The 6-foot5, 245-pound tight end spent three seasons as a Sooner. After medical redshirting his freshman year due to a shoulder injury in 2012, he saw action in nine games throughout the 2013 and 2014 seasons while recording one 4-yard pass reception against Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl.
“I really liked OU a lot and I had a really good group of friends,” he said. “But in terms of my career in football, I was playing around only 10 to 15 snaps a game. I thought it was time for me to explore somewhere else.”
The decision to transfer is a difficult one for any student-athlete. Not only are they choosing to leave their teammates and school, but they are leaving their friendships and the place they have come to call home.
“Every experience happens for a reason, and I think this one definitely opened my eyes,” said McNamara. “Before I transferred, I had this idea of people that do transfer and the stigma that comes along with it. I don’t think I really understood all the things that can happen throughout your college career, how it’s really in a lot of people’s best interest to do it.”
McNamara earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and communications from Oklahoma and was eligible to play immediately as a graduate transfer. As he weighed his options with various programs, an opportunity at Troy presented itself.
“When USC had some spots open at tight end, that created an opportunity for me to come in, and I’m thankful that I had that chance,” he said, “I am really blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of this program.”
In a way, transferring to USC was like coming home for McNamara. As a San Diego native, he had the opportunity to see his family on a regular basis. McNamara’s parents attended almost every game in the 2015 season to watch their son.
McNamara, now in his second year pursuing a master’s degree in communication management, earned the starting tight end role for the Trojans right away. While starting all 14 games in 2015 and every game so far in 2016, he has recorded 16 catches for 114 yards with four touchdowns.
But it’s his blocking that has really made strides since becoming a Trojan.
“You have to be able to block and catch,” said McNamara. “(USC tight ends) Coach (John) Baxter always says if you are only a receiving tight end and you can’t play on the line of scrimmage and block guys, you’re worthless because there is always going to be a receiver who is faster than you. It makes a lot of sense. I took that to heart and have really been working on my blocking.”
Baxter recognizes the contributions McNamara makes for the Trojans.
“He’s really fun to coach because he comes to meetings and practice with a smile on his face,” said Baxter. “He loves to play, he’s a good player and we’re really glad we have him. If he hadn’t transferred, we would really have a major hole to fill. He’s a significant piece of our puzzle on offense.”
Coach Baxter isn’t the only one grateful. McNamara appreciates how his decision to become a Trojan has impacted his football career.
“I’m blessed to be a member of this team,” he said. “We have a ton of talent. In terms of our backs and receivers, it’s the best group I’ve played with in college by far, and I’ve played with some great players at Oklahoma.”
Having been a member of two great programs, McNamara feels fortunate to be a student-athlete at USC.
“From the tradition to the people that have been through here, it’s pretty incredible,” he said. “The school is great and the education you receive is incomparable. The coaching staff here is so genuine, and they really care about all the players. They made that clear as day. While college football is a business, at USC it feels more like a family than anywhere else I’ve been.”
Described as a “player’s coach” by the Trojans, USC head coach Clay Helton goes above and beyond to ensure that every member of his team is treated like family. He practices what he preaches: brotherhood.
“Coach Helton always has your back,” said McNamara. “As a player knowing that, it makes life so much easier. He’s supported me through good and bad. Knowing that he cares about you as a person and not just a football player or a stat, it means a lot and it really goes a long way.”
While he didn’t foresee transferring universities, Taylor McNamara’s journey ended up bringing him to a place he could truly call home. Though he initially chanted “Boomer Sooner”, Taylor McNamara will officially fight on forever.
“I’ve been blessed and I’m really glad I’ve had the experience I did,” he said. “It’s been unique, but I’m glad it happened and it turned out the way it did. USC has been everything I could have imagined it being and more. I really know I made the right decision.”
By Katie Ryan