UNION – During his introductory press conference in February, Union County’s new head football coach said that the Yellow Jackets would talk the talk and walk the walk.
Nine months later, Steve Taneyhill has led his team to the Promised Land.
“You hope as a coach that you’re good at what you do, but you’ve got to have good players and good kids,” Taneyhill said. “You can pat yourself on the back all you want to but it’s about the kids in that locker room and what they’re willing to do.”
Taneyhill has a history of getting the most from his players. His five state championship rings speak for themselves.
It only took Taneyhill two years to elevate Cambridge Academy’s football program to championship caliber in his first head coaching job. The Cougars were back-to-back state champions under his guidance.
Taneyhill followed that up by helping a Chesterfield team that was 1-19 for the two years prior to his arrival to three consecutive state titles.
Since 2005, 15 of his players have earned college scholarships and five were named Player of the Year. Taneyhill is a five-time Coach of the Year and three-time Region Coach of the Year.
Before he began collecting championships as a head coach, Taneyhill was a record-setting quarterback for the University of South Carolina.
The Pennsylvania native burst onto the scene in 1992 and led the Gamecocks to a 21-6 win over Mississippi State in his first collegiate start.
During his time at USC, Taneyhill was named USA Today Freshman All American, 1992 AP Freshman All American, 1992 Sports Illustrated Freshman of the Year, 1994 and 1995 South Carolina Gamecocks MVP and 1995 Carquest Bowl MVP. He played in the Senior Bowl and Blue Grey All Star Games, and he was a 1995 finalist for the Jim O’Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Award.
Taneyhill played the game with a genuine emotion. He was as well known for his attention grabbing antics and long hair as he was for his impressive statistics. Gamecock fans found in him a charismatic field general who went undefeated in Clemson’s Death Valley and also led them to their first ever bowl victory, a 24-21 win over West Virginia.
“I watched Steve a lot when he came through Carolina,” said Ryan Young, Union County offensive line coach. “He was a fiery, intense, emotional player who wanted to be in on every single thing. As a coach, he’s exactly the same in that aspect. He’s gonna throw himself out there and be rowdy, emotional and excited every time he’s on that field.”
During Monday’s state championship press conference, Taneyhill was asked how he’ll feel being back at Williams Brice Stadium as a coach after having ruled the field as a player.
“On a personal note, it’ll be pretty cool,” he said. “But it’s not about me. It’s about Union County and this 2012 football team.”