Stamps returner big-play threat

Ian Busby, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:24 PM ET

Being a returner in the CFL comes with a long list of qualifications.

Speed is a must. A quick burst certainly helps. Catching the ball is paramount. Strength is useful. Size helps but it isn’t a requirement.

However, first of all, the player fielding the ball and heading full speed into oncoming tacklers needs to have a great deal of courage.

Larry Taylor fits all those parameters, even without the size part. That’s what makes the 5-foot-6 dynamo so special.

He’s easily the smallest player on the Calgary Stampeders this season but he could make the greatest impact.

Being the smallest player on most of his teams has never stopped Taylor from performing.

“Courage comes from my background,” Taylor said.

“I have it for my wife and kids. I have faith and I believe in my coaches and my teammates to get the job done. They make your job easy on the back end.”

Taylor had the first of his three children when he was just 15. To support his son Tyler, he started working while still attending school, and he grew up early even if he didn’t grow physically.

In the meantime, he got married and had two more children, at the same time becoming a star in the CFL.

In 2009, Taylor was the league’s most outstanding special teams player while helping the Montreal Alouettes win the Grey Cup.

The 26-year-old went to the NFL on an option-year deal but returned to Montreal late last season before getting released during the playoffs.

He was forced to watch the Alouettes win a second Grey Cup without him, again a win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“I was happy for those guys,” Taylor said. “I look at everything happening for a reason.

“It would have been great to be part of another championship. That would have been my third Grey Cup in a row. But I’m just happy to be in this position now.”

Taylor had a history against the Stampeders and with Calgary before signing as a free agent in February.

It was the Stamps who beat the Alouettes in the 2008 Grey Cup at Montreal to send Taylor and his teammates into heartbreak.

To start the 2009 season, the Alouettes came into McMahon Stadium and sent a message with a 40-27 season-opening victory in which Taylor had a couple of key plays on offence that led to touchdown drives.

But it was at McMahon Stadium where his season ended, first with disappointment and then elation as the Als got a second chance at a game-winning field goal to beat the Riders.

Now Taylor is spending every day at that stadium and making it feel like home.

“I’ve been on that sideline once in a while but I never thought much about moment,” Taylor said. “It’s funny because you can never forget that moment.”

“I come out here every day and reminisce about some things. I haven’t thought about that moment in particular.”

Taylor has some competition for returning with the Stamps. Landan Talley was the returner for the team when it ended the 2010 season, and Deon Murphy did the job until the final month.

Both are back to battle for the job, but Taylor has the more proven track record.

The team needs to get into game action to make sure Taylor still has what it takes. He still has the courage.

“There are some things you can’t teach a returner,” Taylor said. “It’s a gift from God. You need to have that vision to see lanes. You must have heart.

“Sometimes you know you will take a shot. But nothing is like that feeling of hitting the hole and taking one to the house though.”


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