A coach's decision on the depth chart altered Ike Taylor's career path

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

It's an amusing tale, how Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor was moved to defense. Taylor will speak at a dinner in Steubenville Saturday, and spend some time with the Star-Herald highlighting his long career in Pittsburgh.

Don't ever let it be said coaches aren't just as competitive as players.

In an interview with ESPNDallas on Feb. 4, 2011, former Louisiana-Lafayette coach Gary Bartel admitted to altering the career of Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor. Literally.

ESPN reporter Randy Jennings quoted Bartel:

I knew Ike had the tools to be a cornerback. Our head coach understandably wanted his speed on offense. But the head coach got fired. Before a new coach was hired, I went over to the depth chart display on the wall of the coaches office and moved Ike’s button from running back to cornerback. I told the graduate assistant not to tell a soul. I told Ike he was now a defensive back. The new coach never knew a thing about it.

Just like that, Taylor became a defensive back, not through his own request, or the head coach's decision, but through Bartel's act of rebellion.

While we'll never know what may have come of Ike Taylor the running back (insert fumble jokes here), the decision produced excellent results; Taylor is the elder statesmen of the Steelers, has won two Super Bowls, three AFC championships and has been a key component of one of the best defenses over the stretch of his career.

Taylor spoke recently with Steubenville Star-Herald sports editor Mike Mathison as a lead-in to Taylor's appearance at the Franciscan University of Steubenville's Baron Club dinner Saturday.

Mathison quoted Taylor, speaking about his secretive switch to defensive back: "I couldn't fight it (the switch) because I was so aggressive at running back and playing on special teams - it fit. I liked hitting people. I didn't mind getting hit."

Taylor's willingness to tackle and his skill in that regard is a big part of the reason he's managed to stick with the team for the past 10 seasons. This will likely be his last, after his contract was reduced to just the 2014 season as the team looks to re-establish depth at the cornerback position. The odds-on favorite for the position of choice with the 15th pick in this year's draft is cornerback.

Taylor's experience can help mentor a cornerback in whatever round he will be selected (Taylor was taken in the fourth round in 2004). It may even be more than one cornerback, or a combination of a pure corner as well as a hybrid safety/CB.

He played offense until a position coach tricked the incoming head coach. Taylor will compete for snaps at cornerback this season, and likely will be expected to help develop the younger players already on the roster as well as the ones they draft.

So long as he teaches the position, and doesn't aim to flip a running back to cornerback when Mike Tomlin isn't looking.

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