• Name: Jelani Taylor
• Height: 5’11”
• Weight: 197 lbs
• Position: Safety
• College: Cornell University
• Twitter: @jelani_taylor23
Tell us about your hometown, and what you love most about it?
• I was born in Indianapolis, IN, but I moved to Flint, MI when I was 12 years old. What I love most about Flint is the love and resiliency that the city shows. The people in the city of Flint are the toughest people in the world and really take the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” to another level. This is especially true about the neighborhood I went to high school in Beecher.
List these three in order of importance and why: Film Study, Strength and Conditioning and Practice?
• Practice, Film Study, Strength and Conditioning. This a very close 1, 2, and 3. While all are important, you have to practice as hard as possible so that the game is easy. Studying film is crucial especially at safety to understand what the other team likes to do. Then, strength and conditioning are really important because it prepares your body to play your best, and it helps prevent injury. You are no help to anyone if you are hurt.
What do you worry about, and why?
• I worry about the children in my city at times. While I have faith that God will always work everything out, I worry that the children in my city are not getting the resources they need to be successful.
Give me an example of when you failed at something. How did you react and how did you overcome failure?
• To me, failure is when I don’t meet the expectations I set for myself since my expectations for myself are always higher than other expectations for me. A time I failed is this past football season during the fourth quarter of a game against Yale. I had a roughing the passer penalty on a third down that allowed them to get a first down. I felt that I lost the game for my team because I knew I was a better player than that. I overcame the failure by praying about it and telling myself that all I could do is learn from it.
What do your teammates say is your best quality?
• My teammates would say my best quality is my confidence.
Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
• Justin Watson
What would your career be if you couldn’t play football?
• To start, I would work in some facet of the real estate industry with a goal of eventually owning my own business.
Room, desk, and car – which do you clean first
• I would clean my desk first, then my room. I don’t have a car.
If there was a disaster and you could either save three strangers or one family member, which would you choose and why?
• Family is everything, but if I was on a plane and the plane was crashing and my family member was at the back of the plane, I would save the three strangers closest to me. I would choose to save them because I have faith that my family member would save themselves.
If you could be any television or movie character, who would you be and why?
• I would be Will Smith from the Pursuit of Happiness. He triumphed through all of the obstacles he faced, and I feel like I can relate on a smaller scale.
Tell me about your biggest adversity in life and how you’ve dealt with or overcome it?
• My biggest adversity in life was being homeless for a point in time in high school. It was tough for my siblings and I, but luckily there were good people in the community that helped us when we needed it. The people in my community and my siblings helped me deal with it because we were all going through it together.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
• My most embarrassing moment is when I was playing quarterback on varsity my freshman year in high school, and I was rolling out to the left and threw the ball through the back of the end zone losing us the game.
What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?
• The most memorable play of my collegiate career is from my sophomore year against Bucknell. I broke on a flat route perfectly and had a big hit on a 250 lb tight end. I was named a starter at safety the next game.
What song best describes your work ethic?
• “Grinding All My Life” by Nipsey Hussle #RIP
What is the most important trait you can have (Physical or Non-Physical) to help you succeed at the next level?
• The most important trait I can have to succeed at the next level is confidence. I’m a strong believer that if you don’t believe in yourself, it doesn’t matter if anyone else does. Confidence is half the battle, and if I want to make it to the next level, I have to outwork everyone so that my confidence is high. Work ethic breeds confidence.
If you could bring one person back from the dead for one day, who would it be and why?
• I would bring back my friend Gabe Davis from High School who died heading into our senior year. I just want to be able to chill with him one more time and let him know that I’m making sure his name will live forever.
If you were to open a dance club, what would you name it?
• Jetlag (JET is my initials)
Who is the most underrated player in the NFL?
• Jamal Adams is the most underrated player in the NFL. He was named a captain at age 22, and from the plays I see him make and the way he plays the game, he is already one of the best safeties in the NFL.
Would you rather be liked or respected, and why?
• I would definitely rather be respected. Respect has to be earned, while people’s opinions of you change all the time.
What player who had his career derailed by off-field issues do you feel for the most and why?
• I would say Brian Banks because he was falsely accused of rape. While he was just a promising start and there was no guarantee that he was going to the NFL, I feel the most for him because he didn’t even get a chance to pursue college or the NFL out of high school?
Do you love to win, or hate to lose?
• I love to win. I don’t like losing, but I know that I would never learn if I didn’t lose sometimes.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life and explain why?
• My father has been the biggest influence on my life. He has always been there for my siblings and me, and he always made sure that we had enough to survive. He is also the one who introduced me to the game of football.