Former Northern Illinois running back and kick returner Rodney Taylor died Sunday in Iowa City, Iowa. Taylor, who played for NIU from 1985 to 1988, was 46.
Taylor came to NIU from Davenport Central High School, where he was an all-state honoree and helped lead the Blue Devils to a state title in 1983. Despite being labeled as too small for Division I football, Taylor exploded onto the scene early in his career at NIU.
During his freshman season of 1985, he set a school record with an 89-yard punt return against Eastern Michigan in 1985.
Taylor took a much larger role in the offense in the following three seasons, rushing for 100 yards on two occasions (1986 vs. Eastern Michigan and 1988 vs. Toledo) and leading the team in all-purpose yards each of those three years.
Currently, he is one of six Huskies all-time to lead the team in all-purpose yards in three consecutive years, joining Al Eck (1958-60), Jack Dean (1962-64), Vince Smith (1974-76), Deon Mitchell (1996-98) and Garrett Wolfe (2004-06).
In his career, Taylor ranks eighth at NIU in career all-purpose yards with 3,654. In addition, he sits third in punt return yards, fifth in kick returns and 20th in rushing yards. In addition, he was named to NIU’s All-Century and All-Huskie Stadium teams as a return specialist.
Taylor’s visitation will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. today and Friday from 10 a.m. until the funeral, which starts at 11 a.m. Both will take place at Third Missionary Baptist Church, 222 West 14th Street, Davenport, Iowa.
Survivors include his wife, Debbie; daughters, Tiffany Taylor, Mandy Taylor and Carissa Coopman, all of Davenport, and CyLee LeBrecque, of Washington State; sisters, Limmie “Nell” Brown and Mary “Ann” Taylor, Davenport; and brothers and sister-in-law, James “Sonny” and Roma Taylor and Charles Taylor, Davenport. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, Fred and Robert Taylor.