Beaufort holds appreciation day for Detroit Lions rookie Devin Taylor

Former Beaufort High and South Carolina standout gets key to city

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comJune 22, 2013 

A silver truck passing the party in Beaufort Town Center on Saturday slowed long enough for its driver to mouth 'Is that him?"

It was hard to miss the main attraction. Detroit Lions rookie Devin Taylor, at 6-foot-8 and dressed in his new team's black and blue, stood out at the free appreciation event he hosted in the shopping center parking lot off Boundary Street.

The former Beaufort High school and South Carolina standout signed free T-shirts and other items under the gazebo in front of Bi-Lo before moving to a photo display to pose with fans and sign the finished print.

"I think it's a pretty good turnout -- a lot of different people from a lot of different areas, even people from Ridgeland and Hilton Head as well," Taylor said. "Eventually when I get some time, I'd like to be able to do some more stuff like this, maybe a camp."

Beaufort mayor Billy Keyserling presented Taylor with a key to the city. Radio station 104.9 broadcast on site. Guests were treated to free food, music, face painting, two bounce houses and a raffle of gift cards and other prizes donated by area businesses.

Taylor's mother, Sylvia Cuyler, decorated the area with memorabilia from her home, including a framed jersey and a display box housing one of Taylor's South Carolina helmets.

"I'm just hoping everybody gets something out of it," Cuyler said.

A banner hanging above the emcee's table captured the spirit of the event: "Thank you family and friends. -- Devin Taylor, Detroit Lions No. 92."

Taylor earlier this month completed Lions' minicamp, where he roomed with first-round pick and fellow defensive end Ziggy Ansah.

He rubbed shoulders with rookies and veterans, learning as much as he could in a short time. The welcome-to-the-NFL moment is still on the horizon.

"There's nothing really like actually being in a game situation," Taylor said. "That will be something I'll be looking forward to when it comes along."

He planned to fish this weekend while he is home, but otherwise will stay busy. Taylor leaves Tuesday for Ohio and the NFL Rookie Symposium, an orientation for first-year players.

He then plans to return to Virginia, where he will continue training with First String Sports Training and Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith, who has become Taylor's mentor.

But first, a token of thanks.

Jay Williams, Taylor's business manager, said Taylor told him when they first met he wanted to do something for the community. Cuyler said she pushed for an event like the one Saturday.

"Devin never would have asked for this," Cuyler said. "He doesn't want that kind of attention."

Williams was told when introduced to Taylor about the big man's quiet demeanor. He learned why South Carolina teammates called Taylor "Dontsaynothin."

"That personality, it's tough as an NFL player to not celebrate and go crazy like a lot of guys do," Williams said. "But that's just his personality. He lets his game do the talking."

On Saturday he spoke with actions. Many of those who lined up for photos with the former Beaufort High star were children.

Former Beaufort High teammates, including former Clemson linebacker Justin Parker, came out. Whale Branch Early College High School football coach Jerry Hatcher, Taylor's position coach at Beaufort High, also watched.

The scene drew curious glances from area shoppers.

"I wonder how many of all these people going to Kmart know all of this is free?" Hatcher asked.

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