Story by Tessa DeMeyer
When in Rome…play football? As a linebacker for Shorter University, that’s exactly what Kareem Taylor does. Located in Rome, Georgia, Shorter is a private Christian university that competes in Division II athletics. The Hawks nabbed Kareem after he graduated from South Effingham High School last year, and it’s easy to see why. During his senior season with the Mustangs, Kareem recorded 83 total tackles, 57 of which were solo efforts. Kareem also finished his high school career as the second-ranked linebacker in the region.
Before finding his niche on the gridiron, college was not at the front of Kareem’s mind, but as his playing time increased, he realized he could play at the collegiate level and set his sights on being recruited. “I started focusing on trying to make my team better while also trying to prepare myself to play college ball,” he said. “My coaches prepared me really well. They are the reason I play the way I do now, and they really changed my game a lot.”
The impact Kareem’s coaches had on his playing style remains apparent at Shorter as he played in seven games his rookie season, notching 13 total tackles. Though he is on track to be a starter his sophomore season, Kareem admitted the step up from high school football to college was not an easy one: “The transition [from high school football to college football] was huge. Speed, size…the speed of the game was a lot different, but I quickly adjusted,” he explained. When I came in, I didn’t think it was going to be that hard, but my first day of practice opened my eyes really quickly and changed my mind. It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be!”
Despite the unexpected toughness of Shorter’s workouts, Kareem was able to apply something he discovered in high school to his collegiate game: “tired, sick and hurt. You can’t be any of those things during a game week, period.”
Off the field, Kareem faced the challenge of finding time to study in his already busy schedule, but the mandatory study hall for first-year student-athletes proved effective, and he finished with a 3.4 GPA, exceeding his goal of a 3.0.
Study halls, 5 a.m. weight-lifting sessions, and endless practices paid off on Saturdays when Kareem took the field to face off against opponents from all over the southeast. Traveling to new cities and getting playing time as a newcomer were definite highlights of his first season.
With the 2017 season on the horizon, Kareem is working on getting stronger and faster every day and aspires to be “an all-around better student-athlete.” In his quest for self-improvement, Kareem remains humble and is looking forward to helping incoming players adjust.
Kareem is currently majoring in business although he has not yet decided on a specific field to pursue. While home for the summer, he assisted with his grandfather’s painting business and has plans to tackle his future in the corporate world with the same confidence he shows when tackling opponents on the gridiron.