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Taylor Dever: Competition brings three-year back-up to starter

Sam Gans | Thursday, November 11, 2010

There is an old saying that competition brings out the best in people.

Senior offensive tackle Taylor Dever might be the embodiment of that claim.

After backing up former Irish right tackle Sam Young for three years, Dever began spring practice in a competition for 2010 graduate Young’s vacated spot. Following a tough battle with fellow senior tackle Andrew Nuss, Dever emerged from fall camp as the starter.

The competition not only was a challenge that made the 6-foot-5-inch, 297-pound Dever better, but was an enjoyable experience for him, as well.

“The competition was good,” Dever said. “I was at right tackle with Andrew. He’s a great football player. Competition is what football is. It’s so much fun. It makes playing the game worth it. It makes coming to work every day worth it.”

Since that time, Dever has cemented his position as the starter when healthy, playing an important role in all of the Irish’s contests in which he’s been available. One game in particular that he noticed his play really come together was Sept. 18 in East Lansing.

“One of my best games was probably at Michigan State,” Dever said. “When we played up there, I just had a good game, as far as assignments and execution goes.”

On the field is just one area in which Dever has enjoyed Notre Dame. Off the field life has also contributed to his love for the University.

“There’s definitely a drive and a focus everywhere you go in the classrooms and in the dorms,” Dever said. “There are good people here. They like to have fun and they also like to work hard. That’s something I told myself that I was looking for in college when I was trying to figure out where to go. Away from football here, it’s been a lot of fun.”

Dever has thought about his future, but has not made any definitive plans at this point. As he did not play in his freshman year, Dever has a fifth year of eligibility remaining, and is likely to use it. He plans to graduate with a degree in marketing, but is unsure of exactly what type of career he’d like to pursue after his playing days and education at Notre Dame are over. Of course, there’s one that is a possibility: the NFL.

“If that opportunity presents itself and it works out, I’ll go into it with the mindset that I’m going to do the best I can and make everything work to the best of my ability,” Dever said. “There are some things that are out of your control, but I do feel that’s an opportunity I have and I’ll take it head on.”

But to his fans, Dever’s football experience, social life, education and future career fall well short in importance when matched up with this question: What’s up with the long, luscious locks of hair?

“I am from California and people often give me grief because of that and I just decided to start growing it out,” he said. “It’s been two years. In 2008, right before the Hawaii Bowl at the end of the season, was when I decided (to grow it out) and just kind of stuck with it since.”

While Dever’s hair length may be all in fun, results on the football field aren’t as much of a laughing matter.

“Obviously playing football at Notre Dame, there’s always going to be the eyes (watching), the pressures and expectations,” he said. “This is my senior year and I’ve been here for four years now and I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs. I’ve had experiences that are good and bad. But we’ve always continued to fight, which I think is something you’ve got to do in football and in life.”