Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Initially a walk-on, Michael Taaffe has made a name for himself on the Texas defense

Connor Steen

Michael Taaffe took a chance on himself. He accepted a preferred walk-on offer to Texas out of high school instead of going somewhere where he would have had a guaranteed scholarship. 

A sophomore from Austin, Taaffe knew that if he believed in himself, he would be able to make an impact for Texas football. 

“(He’s) just a guy who believed in himself,” Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “From day one he never took a backseat. When we were in summer workouts, he wanted to be at the front of the line. Every opportunity he got to step in and be here as a true freshman and get on the grass, he found a way to make a play.”

Taaffe’s hard work paid off when he was placed on scholarship in December 2022. As an Austin local who grew up a Texas football fan, getting a scholarship to UT was a dream come true. 

Since then, Taaffe has not wasted a second of his opportunity and has worked his way into the rotation of the Texas defense. 

“I grew up a Texas Longhorn just 10 miles down the road,” Taaffe said. “I knew at the end of the day when I had that opportunity, it really wasn’t in my line of sight going through the recruiting process. But when Coach Gideon gave me that call, I knew in my heart, that’s where I wanted to be.” 

Taaffe’s gamble on himself and confidence have allowed him to grow into a consistent feature and force to be reckoned with on the field. 

Against Houston, he had the best game of his young career, leading the team with eight tackles, five of them being solo tackles. He also snagged his first career interception when he jumped the route of a Houston receiver and picked off Houston quarterback Donovan Smith in the end zone. 

The interception prevented Houston from scoring a touchdown to take the lead. It came on the same play that he was beaten on in the first half. 

“Coach Sark mentioned (that) they got me on that (play) in the first half, and we were kind of in the same type of coverage,” Taaffe said. “Knowing that the type of offense they had going, when something good happens, they’re gonna come back to it. And just knowing that and you know, disguising it better the second time and then when he gets to his third step, you know, overlapping to that post and making my play.”

Taaffe followed up his end zone interception at Houston with another interception against BYU this past Saturday. 

Taaffe’s teammates have taken notice of his knowledge of the game of football, which allows him to read offenses and jump at just the right time to make the play.

Senior defensive back Jahdae Barron recognizes how he uses his wits to make up for what he lacks in physical strength on the field. Barron and Taaffe have known each other since high school and train together in the offseason.

“I always knew that he was an amazing defensive back,” Barron said. “He’s also smart so that helps him. He’s not the fastest and he’s not the strongest but he has a smart brain up there so it helps him put himself in the right spot to make plays.”

Taaffe’s hard work and determination on the field makes those around him work harder and Sarkisian hopes that other walk-ons will take notice. 

“It’s a great story,” Sarkisian said. “Hopefully, it serves as motivation for a lot of other guys on our team of, ‘When you put your mind to something and you focus on something, you start to gravitate towards it’ and definitely in his career that’s happened.”

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