“Furman got a good one.”
Sandy Creek head football coach Brett Garvin summed it up simply last Wednesday morning as Taylor Hodge officially signed to continue his career at Furman University. The stout spark plug at the heart of the Patriot defensive line has earned his spot on the Paladins with blood, sweat, and tears.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Hodge. “I’m ready for new beginnings. I’m ready to go right now.”
Catching the eye of a number of schools, the Paladins just felt like the right fit.
“They treat me like family,” said Hodge. “It’s a place you can get a great education and play for a great football program.”
As much as he has enjoyed seeing so many Patriots sign over his 16 years at the school, Garvin smiles a little bit wider for Hodge. Hodge has been playing with Garvin’s younger son, Till, since they were 5 or 6 years old.
“It’s touching for me,” he said. “I’ve known him since he was a little butterball.”
Listed at 5’9”, 255 pounds, Hodge is undersized for a defensive lineman, but his impact on the game is goliathan. He’s got a mantel full of All-Region and All-County honors to prove it.
“There has not been a kid that played here with more heart or more desire,” said Garvin. “It’s a testament that for little guys, if they work hard, it’s a possibility. I’m just tickled pink.”
“He might be 5’9”, but in football terminology he’s a violent 5’9”. He plays 6’1”, 6’2”, 6’3”,” said Garvin. “I would tell them somebody is going to get one hell of a football player out of this deal. Now, whether it’s y’all or it’s them, somebody’s going to take a chance on him, and all of you that play against him are probably going to regret that decision because he’s just going to be that guy. He’s going to always be that guy that you don’t want to play against.”
When opponents slept on Hodge, he was using it as fire to chase down quarterbacks and put them to sleep.
“I use it to my advantage,” said Hodge. “People say that I’m too short to play, but I use that as a tool to push myself harder.”
While Hodge looks up to players like Grady Jarrett and Aaron Donald as undersized defensive tackles who have proven they can be game changers, he hopes he can be an inspiration to younger athletes who’ve been told they’re too small.
“I hope I’m a role model to little kids that hear they’re too small to play any sport, not just football,” said Hodge. “I hope so because I had to look up to somebody too.”
As he continues on his upward trajectory, it won’t be just young athletes looking up to Taylor Hodge. It will also be college offensive lineman he’s just bulled over on his way to get the quarterback.