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Jason Taylor's coaching mentors include Nick Saban, Jimmy Johnson, Rex Ryan & one of America's top prep spots; is he ready for what's next?

The former Akron All-American and NFL All-Pro is carving a distinguished coaching career

The vehicle of football has carried Jason Taylor across the United States, but nowhere more prominently than Northeast Ohio and South Florida.

In the former, Taylor became a two-sport star at the University of Akron on both the basketball hardwood and football field – earning a pair of first-team All-Mid-American Conference selections for his dominance as a Zips' defensive lineman.

There were gridiron All-American honors that followed during Taylor's junior season at Akron.

That all yielded a 15-year NFL career that got its beginning, middle and end with the Miami Dolphins.

Taylor, however, wasn't done with football.

He's perhaps never had a great investment in a sport that he's at times flat-out dominated, winning the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2006 and amassing a six-pack of Pro-Bowl selections, not to mention bursting through for membership in the NFL's 100-sack club.

Now, though, it's different for the devoted family man and father of four – who has a son playing football at Arizona and another one finishing his high school career at Miami-area prep powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas and choosing between Alabama and LSU, among myriad other options. Oh, and Taylor's teenage daughter is a highly regarded beach volleyball player who's similarly drawing interest from college recruiters.

So, no, Taylor isn't done with athletics – and especially not football. Actually, he's defensive coordinator at St. Thomas Aquinas for a 13-1 Raiders squad that's held 11 opponents to 16 or fewer points and plays next week for a Florida state championship.

Taylor's the Raiders' fifth-year assistant and their defensive play-caller through no overriding restless impulse; he's a cog in one of the country's most well-oiled prep machines because Taylor, a Pittsburgh native who was homeschooled before c chooses to be.

To give back to football, absolutely.

To be a father – to his kids and others – without doubt.

To make sure, Taylor explains to FootballScoop, the game is brought to its future generations the right way.

“For me it was really simple: my kids, my sons never played football, not tackle football, until they were 7-8-9 years old they weren't playing,” Taylor told FootballScoop. “I was still in the League, and they were begging to play. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about it – especially down here in South Florida where it is so football-intensive.”

Taylor, with his kids still embracing the game, decided to wrap the sport in his arms with his sons.

“They wanted to play, and I wanted it to be done the right way, taught right way, practice structured to take care of the kids,” Taylor said. “Just to really be involved with my sons. As my football journey ended, to take that journey with them. I was going to be in the backseat but be involved.

“So from coaching in little league but then going up to coaching high school, it wasn't planned. Then I fell in love with it. Fell in love with being around my sons, of course, but then 100 other kids, 100 more sons. That's kind of how I got addicted to it.”

Taylor's passion, a hallmark of his decorated pro career that includes a Walter Payton Man of the Year honor and selection to the NFL's All-2000s Decade Team, now resonates in his teachings.

Roger Harriott, head coach of the STA juggernaut, guards his program's culture with the verve most offensive linemen couldn't muster against Taylor.

So Taylor had to fit at STA – not necessarily that STA had to fit Taylor.

The union has paid for all parties – on and off the field.

“It's been extremely advantageous to have Jason affiliated with our program, not just his football knowledge and reputation, which inspires others, but more so having that healthy relationship and meaningful dialogues on a daily basis with these kids,” Harriott, seeking his fifth state crown atop his alma mater, told FootballScoop. “The most beneficial component to serving and being an asset to the St. Thomas Aquinas community, is when you have individuals like Jason Taylor who has a certain persona and can influence in more ways than one, does things the right way and is a positive role model.

“So at any level, youth, high school, college, NFL, he's going to be successful because he is a person of gratitude and it shows in the type of person and father and husband and coach that Jason is.”

It is in those traits, far more than being tethered to any rigid Xs and Os scheme, that Taylor hones his coaching approach.

Never, ever is Jason Taylor coaching his kids saying, “When I did this … “ but rather sharing through coaching his experiences and knowledge.

“Often, all the time, really, I don't think about my career or my playing days but I try to use experiences, lessons learned, things I got from Jimmy Johnson, Nick Saban, Rex Ryan,” Taylor said. “I use those experiences and things learned along the way. I never talk about my career with the kids. In a way, I don't care about that and I'm not sure they care about it. I think maybe they admire it. I think they aspire to be that. But I'm a firm believer in high school, honestly any level of football, professional level I felt the same way, people don't care what you know till they know that you care.

“These kids know I care about them, want a relationship off the football field. I'm going to be there for them and have them know I sincerely have a vested interest in what they're doing and how they're doing.”

These traits, shining now from the sidelines at a program that is among the nation's leaders in sending its pupils to play at the collegiate level, are shining a new light on Taylor as STA remains a must-stop destination for a Who's Who of college coaches on the recruiting trial.

Too, his playing career and now burgeoning coaching career have Taylor perhaps again being recruited himself. Already some college coaches and programs are gauging Taylor's prospective interest in joining their staffs; he admits to FootballScoop that there also have been a couple of NFL calls of the same nature.

“You know, I've really left it open because my sons were playing for the team, but there's been some opportunities over the last 3 or 4 years, I've had people talk to me, informal interviews and meetings,” Taylor said. “It's always been about my kids. And it's the same it is now with STA – all of those are my kids. Being there and not wanting to leave them. The coaching profession can be brutal, time-wise.

“But being around the circle a little bit of coaches, asking yourself do you have aspirations of going to the pros, college. I love the kids, the chance to develop them and creating relationships. Whether that means the college game fits best … I think coaching in the college game really intrigues me and excites me.

“I'm open to it. I've always been addicted to the game. I love the details, love the process. Love the 80 hours or 90 hours a week you put in to play a 2.5-hour game. We're all a little messed up, I guess that's how it is for me. I love the long weeks and the details. Putting in the work.”

See, football remains the vehicle. Taylor's got open road for his career in front of him.