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By Mike Finn
One reason David Taylor chose to follow Cael Sanderson to Penn State dated back to when he literally hung around the sport’s only four-time undefeated national champion when both lived near Sanderson’s home in Utah.
“I used to go over and watch them and his dad was one of my first coaches,” said Taylor, recalling when Cael Sanderson returned home from Iowa State during a Christmas break. “I was the little kid who used to jump on his back.”
Now a days, Taylor might have a more difficult time being toted around by his current college coach considering Taylor is starting as a redshirt freshman at 157 pounds for the Nittany Lions.
But in many people’s minds, Taylor is still a little guy … so little that three of his four Ohio state championships came at 103 (2006-07) and 112 pounds (2008) for St. Paris (Ohio) Graham High School after his father (whose first name is also Dave), a pilot for Delta Airlines, transferred from Salt Lake City to Cincinnati. It wasn’t until his senior year that the former Falcon finally showed a growth spurt when he completed his prep career with a state title at 135.
“When I was being recruited, there were a lot of people questioning whether I’d be big enough to be a 125 pounder because I was still a 112-pounder at the time. I was still a pretty skinny little kid,” said Taylor, who eventually compiled a 180-2 career mark and was a two-time first-team ASICS All-American while receiving the prestigious Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award. He also won three Cadet and two Junior National championships in freestyle during his high school years.
By that time, Taylor knew he’d also be wrestling for Sanderson, committing first to wrestle at Iowa State before following the former Cyclone to Happy Valley
“Some people were recruiting me for 141 pounds, but at the same time Cael was saying I’d be a 157-pounder and possibly go up to 165 pounds or 174,” Taylor said. “It’s funny how he knew how big I could get.
Their shared background also helped.
“I had known him for a long time,” Taylor said. “Back when I was a little kid, he knew my dad, who is about 6-foot-2 and must have known that I would follow the growth pattern of my dad.
“I also always had broad shoulders. There were some people who kept reminding me that I was going to get big, but they didn’t know when it would actually happen. One day, I was 20 pounds heavier. When I got to Penn State, I was about 150-155. This summer I got up to where I was 175.”
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