Western Illinois linebacker Brett Taylor has been named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year, the league office announced Wednesday.
A senior from Macomb, Taylor tops the nation in tackles (150), tackles per game (13.6) and assisted stops (90), respectively. Taylor has also compiled 13.0 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, four breakups, two forced fumbles and one quarterback hurry.
Dating back to the 2016 campaign, Taylor has at least tied for the team lead in tackles in 15 of the last 16 games, including all but one this year. He has also recorded double-digit tackles in all but three contests this year, helping him earn four separate MVFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
In Western Illinois' contest with South Dakota on Sept. 30, Taylor tallied 28 tackles, matching NFL great Rodney Harrison (at Western Kentucky, 1993) for the single-game school record. Those 28 stops rank as the fifth-most in a game in MVFC history. Taylor's 18 assisted tackles were also the second-most in any game in program history.
"He always makes tackles," WIU safety Justin Fitzpatrick said of Taylor. "It's mostly his work ethic and knowing what to expect. It seems like he always knows where the ball is going to go before the ball is even snapped. He has that second instinct that not a lot of people have and he uses it to his advantage."
A finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the FCS' top defensive player, Taylor has made 457 tackles in his career, the third-most of any player in Western Illinois history. His 260 career solo tackles are fourth in school history, two away from sole possession of third, and his 197 assisted stops also place fourth, 10 from sole possession of third place. Taylor's 90 assisted tackles this year are the third-most in a single season in program history.
Taylor is the fourth Leatherneck ever to earn a conference's top defensive honor.
Named a 2016 STATS FCS All-American and two-time All-MVFC honoree, Taylor joins former Leathernecks James Milton (1998), Edgerton Hartwell (1999, 2000) and Kyle Glazier (2010) in winning a conference Defensive Player of the Year award.