Levi Chapman, Guest Contributor
Collegiate football players are accustomed to taking hard hits and COVID-19 has sacked college athletics across the country. Emory & Henry senior Hunter Taylor, quarterback for the Wasps, is ready to get back in the game.
Taylor, a sports management major, minoring in mass communications, had his plans sidelined when the campus was evacuated in March as administration and staff sought to keep the E&H community safe in the face of a pandemic. Though the 2019 football season was already over, plans were halted for the 2020 season and classes for the spring semester were completed virtually.
“One of the challenges that comes with online classes is not having the in-person contact and discussing things that you may be struggling with in the course,” Taylor said.
Summer came and went, the fall 2020 semester is underway, and some athletes have returned to campus. Taylor notes that this year so far has been unlike any of his three previous years at E&H. “It has been great getting to see my friends,” he said, “however; not playing football right now and not getting to be in class in-person has been very different.”
While campus was closed due to COVID-19 during spring and summer, Taylor had to maintain his fitness without access to E&H facilities like the weight room and the King Center. “I did a lot of at home workouts such as pushups, sit ups, and air squats,” he said.
As the possibility of a 2020 football season was uncertain, athletes and Wasp fans held out hope that there would be a season and that the tradition of E&H football would come back to the Nicewonder Field in the Fred Selfe Stadium. For now, an unprecedented spring football season is set to begin in February 2021.
Taylor is no stranger to coming back strong. In last year’s homecoming game when the Wasps hosted the Generals of Washington-Lee, the Wasps trailed the Generals by 14 points with a little more than six minutes left in the game. Taylor rallied the Wasps to come back and tie the game and “set the stage for arguably the biggest play of the season,” according to the ODAC website.
A powerful pass from Taylor to teammate Max Yates in the end zone through heavy traffic allowed the Wasps to sting the Generals and win the game 48-42 with no time left on the clock. Taylor’s performance in that October 19, 2019 homecoming game attracted the ODAC’s attention, and it named him an ODAC Football Offensive Player of the Week. At that time, he led the ODAC with 16 passing touchdowns and an average of 276 yards per game.
After a winning 2019 season in which he led the Wasps to a 7-3 record, Taylor has great expectations for the spring season. When asked what Wasp fans can look forward to in the coming season, Taylor said, “I think our fans should be very excited for the spring season to start with the team we have coming back. I am expecting to compete for the conference championship.”