Many people heard the name Michael Taaffe for the first time during the 2019 6A Division II Championship game, when Austin Westlake captured their first title in nearly 25 years, but I've gotten to know Michael very well personally in the past few years. Michael dominated in Westlake's 24-0 win over Denton Guyer in AT&T Stadium, a performance that earned him Defensive MVP. To nobody's surprise, he is having more showings like that in his senior season.
Recently, I had a chance to catch up with Taaffe about a number of things, from the recruitment process, to his legacy and expectations for the Chaps this season.
VYPE: What was your off-season workout regimen like with the restrictions that UIL put on summer practices?
Taaffe: This off-season was the weirdest in the history of football, so mainly just making sure that I got what I needed to get done. Our strength and conditioning coach would send the team workouts and runs everyday, and he would make sure that we got those done. Me and a couple of other DB's would do them in someone's garage everyday and it turned out better than how we thought it was going to go.
VYPE: Offers are starting to come in from D-I Schools, what has that process been like?
Taaffe: To be honest, the process has been very stressful. The one thing that has been the hardest is realizing that these schools are really great schools for academics that are making offers, so it's not only my play on the field that they are looking for, but also how well I do in the classroom.
VYPE: Describe how that Championship game in AT&T stadium felt and what it meant to you to earn Defensive player of the game?
Taaffe: That was easily the best game and the most memorable game I have ever played in. Being out there and our team doing so well was incredible. The award that I got was really amazing, but I barely take any credit for that. It was the D-Line and linebackers that were putting pressure on the quarterback and the other DB's playing lights out to help me play good individually.
VYPE: There are some big names to come out of Westlake football, guys like Nick Foles, Drew Brees and Sam Ehlinger, how are you going to make sure you're in that conversation before it's all said and done?
Taaffe: Yeah, those names will always be remembered in the Westlake community. Kids like myself looked up to those players and were inspired to be like them. I hope that I can put as much production as they did on the field, but if not, I want to be able to give back to the community as much as they did, because they are all guys that loved Westlake and gave a lot back to this community.
VYPE: Last question, Why do you think Westlake can go back-to-back this year?
Taaffe: Simple, we have playmakers, and love for this game of football. We have guys that can ball out as individuals and we have guys that can ball out as individuals, and that helps our team as a whole a lot more than having guys that just know their assignment. And not only are our guys playmakers, we all have a burning desire to play this game, knowing how much we got stripped away from us and if we aren't careful how much more could be taken away.