Former Lions DT Taylor starts fresh at Baylor


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

My colleague Tim Griffin has an interesting piece over at the Big 12 blog about Phil Taylor, the former Penn State defensive tackle who transferred to Baylor after being dismissed from the program last summer.

Taylor was among the swell of Penn State players involved in off-field incidents in 2007 and early 2008. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct for his role in an a fight at the Penn State student union in October 2007. Teammate Navorro Bowman pleaded guilty to the same charge and went on to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors as a linebacker last fall, but Taylor and fellow defensive linemen Chris Baker were kicked off the team in July.

Taylor didn't want to discuss Penn State too much, but he did say he was treated unfairly "because there were a lot of others in the same situation for similar things there."

There was also this tidbit:

"He is already struck by the difference in the leadership styles of Baylor coach Art Briles and [Joe] Paterno.

'I've been around a lot of teams, but here, it's more loose,' Taylor said. 'The coach lets us have fun. We still work very hard and do the things that we are supposed to do. But it's not quite as regimented as it was there -- do this, don't do that.'

The feeling around the program is different, too, Taylor said.

'Here, they treat us more like adults,' he said."

That's certainly a dig at Penn State, which has an old-school culture largely because of its old-school coach. But Paterno was in a pretty tough spot last summer after Penn State's reputation had been challenged. Many viewed his dismissals of Taylor and Baker as reactionary moves.

Penn State shifted the focus back to the field by going 11-2 and winning a share of the Big Ten title. Plus, player conduct has improved significantly during the last six months.