No. 5 Taylor Lamb
Committed to South Alabama
Why do you wear No. 11?
"I can't say it means anything special to me. I switched to 11 [from 7] when I was in South Carolina and decided to keep it when I came to Calhoun."
CALHOUN, Ga. — Becoming a Division I college quarterback was the least of Taylor Lamb's goals as training camp opened a year ago. In fact, the new kid with this town's famous last name was just hoping to fit in as a veteran Calhoun football team began camp coming off its third consecutive Class AA runner-up finish.
Coach Hal Lamb's newly arrived nephew had been given the reins to one of the state's most powerful offenses, and while it was a great opportunity to open college recruiters' eyes, it also brought a level of pressure the 6-foot-2 athlete never had experienced.
Taylor Lamb was a receiver in Greenville, S.C., though he had been groomed to be a quarterback. In 2011, there would be no easing into the position.
"Last year, mentally at this time, I was struggling, just trying to fit in and get to know my teammates," Lamb recently acknowledged. "It was tough at first, but once we got rolling nobody stopped us."
The Yellow Jackets went on to finish 15-0 and claim the school's first state championship in more than 50 years, and their quarterback became a hot topic after passing for 40 touchdowns and more than 3,000 yards, both Chattanooga-area single-season records.
"Things have changed a lot in a year," he said with a smile, sporting his large, lustrous championship ring. "From not starting a game at quarterback to winning 15 and a state championship, it was a great season. There was a lot of pressure on me last year, but now there's a different pressure to do it again."
He at least will not have to impress recruiters, as Lamb ended his recruting almost as quickly as it began. One trip to Mobile, Ala., and the campus of South Alabama University took care of that.
"I went down there after they offered me [a scholarship], and it was enough for me," he said of the Jaguars, who begin play in football's highest classification as a member of the Sun Belt Conference this season. "It's right on the beach with great facilities, and all the guys are great. They run a similar style of offense, and they are moving up in competition."
With a state title and a college scholarship tucked away, what is there to prove in 2012 for Lamb? He will be the Yellow Jackets' first quarterback to start back-to-back seasons since cousin Tre Lamb five years ago.
"Right now it's good to be a Calhoun football player, but the target is on our back," Taylor Lamb said. "There are still doubters out there that believe we can't do it again. We do have a lot of new starters, but those guys were a big part of the team and they know what it takes."
Hal Lamb, who is replacing 10 defensive starters, knows his offense is in good hands.
"This offense can be really good, and we're giving Taylor a few new wrinkles," the coach said. "It's nice having a returning quarterback for a change."
A state championship-winning quarterback, at that.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...