LUBBOCK, Texas — Dadrion Taylor-Demerson was seemingly everywhere in Texas Tech’s 41-14 win over Kansas Saturday.
The junior defensive back intercepted one pass and got his hands on two others, submitting another solid performance in a 2021 season where teammates say he’s stepped his game up.
“He’s always been confident, but now he’s going another level up,” fellow safety Eric Monroe said. “We’re proud of that man stepping up and playing his role.”
Coming into the 2021 season, it was easy for Taylor-Demerson, or “Rabbit,” as he’s known by just about everyone in and around the team, to get lost in the shuffle when considering the Red Raider secondary.
Matt Wells brought in four transfers to fortify that unit, all of which came from Power Five schools. 2020 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention Damarcus Fields and former Freshman All-American Adrian Frye returned as well.
But as is often the case in football, injury struck.
Three of those transfers — Reggie Pearson Jr., Malik Dunlap and Marquis Waters — have missed time with an injury. Waters suffered a season-ending torn pectoral, thrusting Taylor-Demerson into a full-time starting role.
Waters’ injury happened against Texas, and Taylor-Demerson intercepted Longhorn quarterback Casey Thompson after taking his place. His pick marked the only time Texas Tech stopped a Thompson-led drive all game.
The consistent playing time is new for Taylor-Demerson. In his first two years with the program, he participated frequently on special teams but only started a handful of games.
What the Oklahoma City native has always brought to the table is competitive nature, according to Red Raider defensive coordinator Keith Patterson.
Patterson noted that Taylor-Demerson won state titles in football, basketball and track & field at Carl Albert High School. He blends that attitude with a skill set that has led Patterson to compare him to Kansas City Chiefs’ Pro Bowl safety Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu.
“He’s extremely fast, but he has that same-type body (as Mathieu), same-type skill set,” Patterson said. “He’s just a natural in a lot of ways.”
It took an injury to one of the defense’s most talented and experienced players for him to emerge, but Texas Tech’s “Rabbit” is playing like a “Honey Badger,” and the team is reaping the rewards with performances like Saturday’s.