The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Former NFL player takes new coaching role at Eastern

Carlif Taylor talks about goals for the upcoming season in a Q&A.
Sia DeyKoontz
Assistant coach Carlif Taylor runs drills with players during football practice at O’Brien Field April 4.

Defensive line and assistant football coach Carlif Taylor is in his first year as a coach for the Panthers. Taylor answered some questions ranging from his experience playing in the NFL to why he came to coach at Eastern.


Q: How was it like playing in the NFL?

A: “So, being that I played Division II [foot]ball, I had very limited resources. I would say the biggest change was the amount of resources and luxury that you have, [and] how you are taken care of was a big change for me.”

Q: Did you like playing with the Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants more?

A: “I would say being from New York, I gotta go with the Giants, but what made me a better player was playing for Dallas.”

Q: What are your goals for the season?

A: “I would say first and foremost is to be a better man and a better coach. Ultimately, [it] is to bring an OVC title back here to Charleston and hopefully be able to get as many of the lineman as possible playing at the next level, whether that’s CFL, NFL or some form of professional development.”

Q: What sport would you have played other than football?

A:  “Basketball or boxing, 100%.”

Q: Ice Mountain or purified water?

A: “Spring water all day. Get the natural minerals.”

Q: Why did you decide to coach for Eastern?

A: “Numerous reasons, but I would say the biggest reason is to be under the tutelage of coach [Chris] Wilkerson. I think he’s the best head coach in college football right now. When I got to the University of Chicago, he was the head coach there as well, [and] everybody from the players and the coaches that played and coached for him spoke highly. If anything, it was underselling; this guy’s amazing. He’s helping me with my transition [and it] has been really smooth and really well. That’s all thanks to him.”

Q: Who was your favorite player to go against in the NFL?

A: “Travis Frederick. He was a center for the Dallas Cowboys. To me, he is one of the best offensive lineman that ever played football, so being able to go and get higher talent is something I always look forward to.”

Q: What’s your favorite NFL team?

A: “[I] don’t have a favorite NFL team. It’s always a trick question to me because I played for two really good, well respected teams. For me, being that football is ever changing, I kind of follow players. Recently, I was a big Aaron Donald fan. I like Jalen Ramsey. I like DeAndre Hopkins.”

Q: How was it playing under Pete Jenkins?

A: “Pete Jenkins is the GOAT. He’s the original GOAT. Pete Jenkins crawled so all of the [defensive] line coaches could walk. His tutelage and what he brought to the game kind of transcended the game. A lot of his drills that he created are still being done. So for me, it’s almost like if Michael Jordan was your coach, so it’d be another Pete Jenkins, because it was probably the best thing for my career as a player and as a coach.”

Q: If you had the power to bring one celebrity on campus, who would it be?

A: “Coach Prime [Deion Sanders], for sure.”

Q: Pancakes or waffles?

A: “Pancakes.”

Q: What’s the best part about being a coach?

A: “The connections that you make with the people you’re around. I’m really for the people. I will coach if it didn’t pay me a dime, and I think in college; I always say you grew up twice. So in college, of course, you’re an adult, and you’re transitioning from that high school realm. When you grow up twice here, you kind of have the independence of still a little bit of leverage of being in and out. As you enter the real world, when you graduate, I think the people you’re around, you want to be able to emulate or admire. So I think having that responsibility is something I take pride in and being able to change lives and impact lives mean a lot to me, because you never forget your coaches or your teachers. It’s kind of synonymous good, bad or indifferent. You are always able to remember something from them. So me being able to teach a few people a few things when they pick up one or two things means a lot to me.”

Q: What football player do you look up to the most?

A: “Aaron Donald, Warren Sapp [and I] will always, always, always be a big proponent and fan of Deion Sanders, Coach Prime. The first two guys were players that played my position and did it really well at a high level and for a long time. And then Deion Sanders just naturally has that charisma, swagger and confidence that I think you need to be successful as a player and as a coach.”

Q: Favorite meal before a game?

A: “I try to be as athletic as possible in the thought process [so] some type of grilled chicken and pasta.”

Q: Why did you pick the number 63 in the NFL?

A: “Whether I was playing basketball or football, I naturally tended to go whatever number I was given. I’m very spiritual, so I thought of it as a sign. Numerically, the number 63 equaled up to nine, and nine represented completion, full sense of self. In numerology, it is represented as the one all the way through. So I just took it as a sign especially through my trials and tribulations of growing up, playing ball. I just felt that I was at the complete cycle, and I got the 360 version so I just ran with it.”

Q: Do you think the Earth is round or flat?

A: “The earth is definitely round.”

Q: If you could have any super powers, what would it be?

A: “I want to be able to speak and read all languages because I like to travel. It’s either that or be able to communicate with animals”

Q: What is your favorite post-game meal?

A: “I’m gonna be eating like a king so some seafood like big lovely shrimp, lobster tail, crab legs or just steaks, but [I] also always got to have a sweet so I’m like ice cream guy too.”

Q: Apple juice or orange juice?

A: “Orange juice, no pulp.”

Q: What is your favorite holiday?

A: “I’m gonna say Christmas or Thanksgiving. That’s just because you get to be around family, break bread, share gifts and just see people happy and be around that vibe all the time. I wish we could have those [holidays] with them every month.”

Q: How are you enjoying Charleston?

A: “I haven’t really been able to do too much, but honestly, I like it just for the people. The people alone have been amazing. Whether it’s like students, student athletes, coaches and the people that I run into when I go to the stores, everybody’s been extremely nice.”

Q: Who would you let get the aux?

A: “Coach [Jacob] Hillmann. He’s rocking in [the weight room] every morning. My office is right next to the weight room, so he puts me in a good mood with the music he plays.”

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

A: “If I’m not active, like playing sports or doing something extremely active, then free time for me is like, as nerdy as it sounds, like studying or learning something new.”

Q: What are you currently studying or learning?”

A: “I’m super spiritual, so I read a lot of esoteric books, religion books and astrology books– things of that nature. So I’m on YouTube, TikTok, and I have plenty of books just talking about yourself and how to understand yourself, chakras, alignment, things of that nature.”

Q: Who’s your biggest inspiration?

A: “As cliche as it sounds, my mother. Just seeing the way she was able to raise three boys on her own and how she managed everything and was able to teach me. I would say her and my brother; both of them are synonymous to me. I look forward to being like them as I get older and progress throughout my career. 

Q: What would you tell your younger self?

A: “I would tell my younger self to just stay consistent. Life is always gonna have challenges for you. It really goes how you want it to go, but the biggest thing is to keep your head down, and what is meant for you is meant for you. God always gives you what you need, not necessarily what you want.”


Payton Liggins can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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Payton Liggins
Payton Liggins, Reporter
Payton Liggins is a freshman sports media relations major. This is her first year at The News.

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