The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

A familiar face back under center for the Panthers football team

City College's new starting quarterback Taylor Laird played for the Panthers in 2013, but his season was cut short after he broke his ankle in week 2.
City College’s new starting quarterback Taylor Laird played for the Panthers in 2013, but his season was cut short after he broke his ankle in week 2. (Photo by Dianne Rose | [email protected])

Some things in life are just meant to be. Take Panthers’ quarterback Taylor Laird, for example. Just two seasons ago, Laird was the starting quarterback for City College. He threw for 474 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions in his first game in a Panthers uniform, a 37-31 victory over Sierra College.

His stats made it seem as if Laird could be the guy to lead City College to its first winning season since 2010. However, the following week, in a game against American River College, Laird broke his ankle, forcing him to miss the rest of the season.

“I went back to pass, I saw the defender coming, and I knew I was going down, and that’s when I heard a pop,” said Laird in a 2013 interview with The Express.

Fast-forward two years, beyond the scholarship offer from Kansas State University at the end of the 2013 season, and just past the injury-plagued off-season that caused him to miss the 2014 season with K-State.

Now, after coming back to City College to play tight end, Laird finds himself back under center as quarterback for the Panthers again after former starter Jason Samuels left the team.

“To be honest, after leaving Kansas, I always thought that I’d end up playing quarterback again,” said Laird. “I knew Jason was here, but I just felt it in my heart that I was going to play quarterback eventually. I just didn’t know it would happen like this, because Jason quits.”

Samuels became the starter as a freshman in 2014 and threw for 2,691 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on the season. He led the Panthers to a 7–4 record and an East Bay Bowl Game victory over Diablo Valley College.

After his freshman season, Samuels was expected to come back for a second year to start at quarterback for the Panthers but decided to quit the team after week two.

“He just didn’t have a love for the game [any] more,” said Panthers head coach Dannie Walker. “He’s a very intelligent young man, so he saw his future more on the academic side — which is awesome — than to continue to play.”
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Samuels’ absence left Walker with a decision: start one of three freshman quarterbacks on the roster or put the veteran, Laird, back under center. Walker chose the latter.

When his 2014 season started with a season-ending wrist fracture, Laird said his confidence wavered. It was his second consecutive year of having to be sidelined because of injury. After leaving K-State in the spring, Laird said he got a text that helped him get his mojo back.

“There were some schools that were recruiting me and potentially going to offer me [a scholarship], but they never came through,” said Laird. “I was really down on my confidence. I thought that maybe football was not it for me. Maybe it’s not what God had planned for me.

“Then Coach Walker shoots me a text and says, ‘Come play tight end for me.’ I said, ‘Hell, yes.’ I was starting to get lost without football, and I knew I needed it back in my life.”

Walker said he was ecstatic to have Laird back, even if Laird was playing a different position than the one he was recruited for in 2013. Though Laird had never played the position, Walker said he felt Laird was good enough to transfer to a Division 1 college to play tight end.

“[Laird has] been at the [Division 1, Football Bowl Subdivision] level, so he knows what it takes to be a winner. K-State was a perennial, top-15 team every year,” said Walker. “He’s seen the mountain top, and we just want him to be able to bring some of that experience and leadership here.”

The Panthers started the season with a 1-3 record but are 0-2 with Laird as the quarterback. In those two losses, Laird has thrown for 511 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions.

Laird said he realizes that he’s a little behind, but only because of the four-month span of practicing only at the tight end position. Now that he’s back at quarterback, the position he played throughout his career, Laird said that with extra practice and his beliefs he’s confident he’ll get back to where he once was.

“Having faith in God, I feel like he has something planned out for me, and it wasn’t at Kansas State, so I came back,” said Laird. “I could see him working things out for me already.”

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