JONESBORO, Ark. (10/5/17) – Arkansas State cornerback and return specialist Blaise Taylor has been named one of just 30 FBS candidates from across the nation for the 2017 Senior CLASS Award, annually recognizing an NCAA FBS senior with notable achievements in areas of community, classroom, character and competition.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the prestigious Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
The candidate class will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will then select the winning candidate. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the football bowl season in early January.
Taylor is the third A-State football student-athlete since 2012 to be named a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award, joining quarterbacks Ryan Aplin (2012) and Fredi Knighten (2015). Aplin went on to be named a finalist and was tabbed a Senior CLASS Award Second Team All-America selection.
A two-time All-Sun Belt Conference choice, Taylor was recently named a William V. Campbell Trophy semifinalist and has garnered national attention as the only current FBS player in the nation to earn both his bachelor's and master's degrees before the start of his true senior season.
Taylor earned his Master of Business Administration in August 2017 with a 3.82 GPA, and he also graduated Magna Cum Laude in August 2016 with his bachelor's degree in business administration. A member of the Arkansas State University Chancellor's List, Dean's List, Athletics Director's Honor Roll and Sun Belt Conference Commissioner's List, Taylor earned both degrees in less than four years.
The Waco, Texas, native has been named a Top 10 junior in the College of Business, and he is a recipient of the Strong-Turner 3.0 Society Award. Taylor was also one of just eight students to receive a prestigious Distinguished Service Award from Arkansas State University in April 2017.
A 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee and two-time Wuerffel Trophy Watch List member, Taylor has been heavily involved in community service while also spending time on the Arkansas State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He recently created a non-profit organization with his sister, sophomore A-State women's basketball guard Starr Taylor, titled "The Power of 1 and 2." The organization is designed to work with underprivileged at-risk children. He is highly invested in working with at-risk youth, including participating at a local alternative school called Success Academy.
Taylor is a 2017 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection as both a return specialist (first team) and defensive back (second team). His football career has seen him pile up 80 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 18 pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a blocked kick while earning all-conference recognition in both 2014 and 2016.
A member of the 2017 Hornung Award Watch List, Taylor has is three-time Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week and was named the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) national Punt Returner of the Week on Nov. 17, 2014. He is the A-State career record holder for career punt return yards (897), which is also the second most in Sun Belt Conference history.
The senior standout holds three of the top-10 marks in school history for punt return yards in a game, as well as in a season. He is the second all-time leader in Sun Belt Conference history for punt returns for a touchdown (4), while his 897 career punt return yards are the second most in the nation among active players.