HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- His teammates gave him one more chance to play a college football game, and Jeremiah Taylor isn't about to turn it down.
When Marshall takes the field Dec. 27 at the Military Bowl, senior defensive end Jeremiah Taylor will be there, as he has all season. But he won't be in his coach-of-sorts role; instead, he will be donning full pads, wearing No. 58 and looking to hit someone in another jersey again.
How much he'll play is uncertain, but he plans to take the field at Annapolis, Md., against Maryland. He has the overwhelming support of players and coaches.
"It feels good," said fellow defensive end Alex Bazzie. "That's all J.T. asked for - he asked for 'you guys to continue the season so I can come back and play one more game.' He asked for that many, many times. He didn't put pressure on anybody, but he just said, 'Man, I just want to play with you all one more time.' "
Taylor, the 6-foot-4, 255-pound native of nearby South Point, Ohio, fractured his L5 vertebra, the lowest of the vertebrae between the rib cage and the pelvis. It wasn't a contact injury, per se, but definitely happened during the stress of live action.
He was hurt in the Herd's third game of the season, at Ohio.
"I think it was during a punt," he said. "The guy got to the outside and cut back, and I turned against my body and I think that's when I felt it the most."
Coach Doc Holliday made sure Thompson continued to contribute - essentially, he became another coach, he traveled with the team and even signaled in defensive calls.
As much as that Thompson kept busy, he was itching to get on the field one more time.
"We'll go out every game, he'll come out [to a team huddle], and you could see how bad he wanted it, to be out there with us," Bazzie said.
Thompson's condition improved well enough to consider a comeback, but it took 21/2 months. He certainly had thoughts of giving up the good fight and calling it a career. He not only had to do what was best for him, but for his wife and two young children.
"She had my back from day one," he said of wife Nakita. "She's my biggest supporter. I really needed it at that time because, football, I've been doing this for four years. To have that support and to keep my head held high, that really helped."
Yes, Taylor has worn a green jersey for four years. In some ways, it seems like yesterday when he enrolled at MU several years after high school and asked MU coaches for a tryout as a 300-pound tackle. In other ways, he recalled all those hours of sacrifice not only stay on the team, but earn a scholarship and a starting spot. He has put that scholarship to good use, graduating last week with a business management degree.