By Tyler Quigley
About 1 million kids play high school football. Of those million only 6.5% will go on to the collegiate level. Of those collegiate athletes only 1.6% make it to the NFL. Christopher Newport’s Junior Wide Receiver Taylor Loudan is trying to be apart of that 1.6%. But he is doing it from a level not typically televised on the national stage, Division III. Fred Jackson, Steven Hauschka, Pierre Garcon, Cecil Shorts III and 2nd round draft pick Ali Marpet are some of the many that have made the jump from Division III to the NFL and had success. Can Taylor Loudan make the jump from Division III to the NFL? Loudan is a kid from a small town with a big dream.
“My hometown of Stephens City means everything to me., says Loudan. To be able to come from a small town and make a name for myself would mean the world to me and I know it could impact many people from my hometown. Being that Stephens City is a small place, just the opportunity to play college football at the level that I am is a dream come true for many kids that look to make it big from a small town.”
Loudan stands about 5ft 10in 185 pounds or has he put its more like “186.” Many would already overlook him just based off of that. But this is very similar to many current NFL wide receivers. Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Cole Beasley, Doug Baldwin, and Wes Welker just to name a few. All of these receivers have made a significant impact on their perspective teams. This alone should not count him out of a shot in the NFL. Loudan’s measurables are very similar to those listed above as well. Loudan runs a 4.55 40 yard dash while Edelman was clocked at a 4.52, Amendola at a 4.58, and Wes Welker at a 4.65. You just have to want it more than anybody else is the general consensus on those who make it to the NFL. In 2015, only ten division III players made and NFL active roster but many more were invited to training camp for a chance to play in the NFL and that is all Loudan is asking for, a chance.
Where does this drive to make it come from? Loudan says “ it stems from the condescendence others throw my way and I turn it into a never ending drive to be better than my competition.”
Loudan collected many accolades this after posting one of the best seasons by a Wide Receiver in school history. He was named 1st Team All Conference Wide Receiver, 2nd Team All Conference Return man in the NJAC , 1st All State of Virginia as a WR and 2nd team as a Returner, he was named Offensive End of year by the Touchdown Club of Richmond for Division II/III, and lastly was named to D3Football All-Eastern Region Team.Some would say Loudan has his curtain call season coming up in his senior season as duplicating this past season would surely turn some heads.
Loudan has aspired to be an NFL athlete since he was a kid, but he senses now more than ever that maybe just maybe that goal is in reach. The ability to work hard is not the question with Loudan, he has put on close to 30 pounds since stepping foot on the campus of Christopher Newport as he is also chasing weight room records and not just on the field stats. If Loudan were to do the NFL combines 225 bench press test, he would be able to knockout about 15-20 reps. In last years NFL combine the average Wide Receiver tested out at about 14 reps. This combination on field and off field drive might move Loudan closer and closer to becoming a professional athlete.
Loudan seems to have all the intangibles but whats holding him back? Is it the fact he is a 5ft 10 white kid from Stephens City, Va? Is it that he is a DIII athlete?
When faced with this question Loudan sat back in an old tore up hammy down college recliner at his buddy’s place with bags under his eyes from early morning winter workouts and said
“Against what most may believe I actually do not feel I am at a disadvantage playing at the D3 level. That comes from my constant belief of being able to do whatever you want as long as you put the work in to do it. I think that no matter where you come from and who you are if you want something you can get it. Do I think that athletes at the D3 level have less resources that say a receiver at the D1 level? Yes, but I also believe that it only takes one opportunity to make a lifelong impression and that’s the goal I am shooting for.”
Loudan’s viewpoint on this topic is very similar to Pierre Garcon’s when he was coming out of college he said “I already know what I can do, just ready to show them what I can do.” This is the exact mindset the Taylor Loudan has adopted for his senior season.
You just have to put on his highlight tape for a few plays and you will see this kid is special. Loudans array of SportsCenter top 10 worthy catches is astounding. Yeah he may be under 6 foot but he plays like he’s 6ft 2. He is consistently out jumping defenders for the ball. He is also didn’t do it against glorified high school corners, he played against several Defensive Backs who were All Americans. Because at the end of the day stats can be deceiving but passing the eye test for scouts is the key.
Loudan is one of the best athletes many students at Christopher Newport have seen. He used to be a member of the University’s baseball team but he gave that up to pursue a chance at the NFL. Coming into college Loudan had the potential to play three collegiate sports, yeah you read that right THREE. Loudan was a standout athlete in high school that got recruited for Football, Baseball, and Basketball. He also touts several hobbies such as Golf, Bowling, and Snowboarding. The man is a freak athlete.Teammate and All Conference Center Scott Fahey says “Loudan is the best athlete I’ve ever come across, the man is good at everything and I mean everything. He probably and all star at Ping Pong too.” Another teammate and former Fullback Austin Browne says “He is a jack of all trades, he knows how to do the small things and that is what makes him a better athlete than everybody else.”
With all of his successes in athletics some might think he your typical arrogant football player, but his teammates and coaches beg to differ. In fact he is described as the ultimate team guy. When asked to do anything for the team they can always count on Taylor. A former teammate and now coach for CNU Nick Kepa describes Loudan as “A guy you can always count on, we could tell him that we need a crucial block on this play and he will go do it. He is a very complete and unselfish football player and you don’t see that a lot.” Teammates look up to him for leadership and he provides an example for them all to follow. He works hard in the weight room and offseason to develop his craft.
All of these things that Loudan has going for him yet the odds are stacked against him. But that’s what drives him and keeps him going, he wants to be doubted because that makes the outcome even sweeter. When asked the question what would you do if you got that one opportunity to showcase your talents to NFL scouts. Taylor’s eyes lit up like a little kid opening presents on Christmas and he said “That would be a dream come true for me and my family, I am willing to go that extra mile just need one shot, that’s all I ask for.”
The biggest question is what does he need to do this upcoming season to get noticed by the NFL. Loudan believe the mark would be around 1500 yards receiving and around 15 TDs and I cannot help but to agree with him. The leading receiver in Division III football this season statistics were 1466 yards and 17 TDs. One can only imagine if he can put up those numbers his opportunity to showcase his talents for scouts will come.
Playing football in the NFL is a job, it requires hours and hours of work on and off of the field. So to end our sit down I asked him as if he were interview for any job in the world, give me your 30 second elevator speech on why I should pick you for my organization and without skipping a beat he said
“I would tell them that by allowing me to be a part of their program, they would be signing a guy who is all about the team, would be willing to do anything for the team, and would work harder than anyone on the team to better his team as a whole. I would just want them to know that the fire and drive inside of me is like nobody elses and it’s because the chip on my shoulder that I play with, because I know that I have always been doubted my entire career and just that fact lights a fire deeper and deeper inside me everyday to”