Taylor Mays made an indelible impression on University of Southern California football fans – and unfortunate, unsuspecting opponents – for four years patrolling the defensive backfield for the Trojans.
A four-time All-America honoree, the USC safety capped a remarkable collegiate career in 2010 as a second round choice in the NFL Draft – ironically, the 49th overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers.
Mays’ impact at USC was evident from the start, recording 62 tackles and three
interceptions as the starting free safety in his freshman year. His on-field achievements garnered widespread honors, Mays becoming only the third player in USC history to be named the Pac-10’s Co-Freshman of the Year. He was honored as a second team All-America, first team freshman All-America, and The Sporting News’ Defensive Freshman of the Year. As a sophomore, Mays received The Sporting News first team All-America honors, Associated Press third team All-America, and ESPN The Magazine named him one of college football’s most physically talented players.
As a 2008 finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, Mays led the Trojans as they shut down Penn State in USC’s 2009 Rose Bowl victory. He was named first Team All-America by The Sporting News, Walter Camp Football, and the Associated Press, as well as achieving All-Pac-10 first team honors.
Rather than turn professional, Mays opted to finish his senior year at USC – and his on-field accomplishments (a career-high 96 total tackles) earned Mays another round of first team All-Pac 10 and first team All-America honors.
The son of former NFL defensive lineman Stafford Mays, Taylor began paying dividends on the 49ers investment in just his fourth professional game – recovering a blocked punt for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons. The 23-year-old finished the 2010 season with 31 solo tackles, seven assists and a forced fumble as a frequent starter at strong safety for San Francisco.