For the moment, running back Jamaal Charles cannot be LaVance Taylor’s favorite Kansas City Chiefs player.
Taylor is Taylor’s favorite Chief, and Charles happens to play the same position.
An underdog story with a strong local twist has unfolded at Chiefs camp. Taylor, who grew up in Raytown and became a record-setting running back for Central Missouri, pulled on a No. 32 red jersey on Friday and took reps in his first NFL camp.
Area player trying to make good is always a fun tale. How Taylor landed a spot amplifies the power of social media.
On Wednesday, Taylor included the Chiefs on his list of NFL teams, along with Jerry Jones and Deion Sanders, that he attempted to contact through Twitter.
From his account, @LaVance_TCT came this request:
Included was a 12-minute highlight clip of Taylor darting, cutting and twisting his way to 6,231 all-purpose yards in his 44-game career with the Mules.
Taylor credited his father, LaVoid, with the idea of reaching out into cyberspace. On Thursday, Taylor was contemplating his future, thinking about where to apply for jobs — he had interviewed with a food service company “a cool little job, nice benefits” — and was about to close his eyes when it got a call from his agent.
The Chiefs were interested.
“I felt like my heart was about to pop out of my chest,” Taylor said. “I was here in about an hour.”
The Chiefs found themselves in need a running back after releasing Cyrus Gray and losing Keshawn Hill with a hamstring injury. The situation was such that reserve quarterback Chase Daniel worked at running back on Thursday. Taylor was the team’s lone running back for Friday’s workouts.
Now, the veterans are in camp for Saturday’s first practice open to the public, and Taylor will be on the field with the team he grew up following.
“Love the Chiefs, I love anything Kansas City actually,” Taylor said. “This is humbling and a blessing.”
Besides Charles, Taylor followed Priest Holmes and knows about Marcus Allen.
“My favorite Chief? It’s still Jamaal, I can’t lie,” Taylor said.
Don’t count him out. Taylor ended his college career with a 260-yard rushing game in Central Missouri’s victory over Southeastern Oklahoma in the Texarkana Bowl. He was signed by Ottawa of the Canadian Football League, but got cut. Still, he learned a lesson.
“When it didn’t work out, it made me hungrier because I knew I belonged there,” Taylor said. “It just made me work harder and pay more attention to detail.”
He’ll apply that lesson to his favorite team, when he works and competes with his favorite player.
“The person that’s in front of me, I’ve looked up to him,” Taylor said. “It’s going to be surreal moment. I might choke up before I talk to him. I know it’s going to be a challenge but I’m ready for it.”