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Undrafted and unforgettable: NFL Quarterback Taylor Heinicke on tenacity, performance, and fitness

June 30, 2022

Undrafted and unforgettable: NFL Quarterback Taylor Heinicke on tenacity, performance, and fitness

Taylor Heinicke

NFL Quarterback

On an exciting episode of the Walker Webcast, we were joined by Washington Commanders’ quarterback, Taylor Heinicke for a lively discussion.

On an exciting episode of the Walker Webcast, we were joined by Washington Commanders’ quarterback, Taylor Heinicke! From playing college football at Old Dominion to being signed by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent, and now earning a second contract with the Commanders, he has had quite the football career. He and Willy discussed a variety of topics, including his NFL journey, leadership, high-pressure performance, health and nutrition, and so much more.

Willy welcomes Taylor Heinicke, Quarterback of the Washington Commanders NFL team. Taylor played college football at Old Dominion University and was signed by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 NFL draft. After an admiral performance in the 2020 NFL playoffs, he earned his second contract with the Washington Football Team, now known as the Washington Commanders, in 2021. He was named starter during the team’s opening last season. 

Taylor grew up in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and had a stellar high school career at Collins High School. He was named Old Spice Player of the Year and MVP of the North/South All-Star Game. He didn’t get his start until his junior year and, by his senior year, was able to showcase the things he had learned in camps and coaching sessions. He immediately accepted his first offer from Old Dominion. It was his parents, he shares, who instilled in him the idea of always finishing the things he begins. He learned the importance of consistency when advancing from high school to college-level football. Many college players dream of playing in the NFL, but few do. Even fewer players actually walk on after not being drafted like Taylor did with the Vikings. He had a great rookie pre-season and was fortunately kept on the team. Being a smaller guy, Taylor has always known he needed to go the extra mile to prove his capabilities. 

His NFL debut was for the Texans on Christmas Day 2017 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In just a matter of weeks, he went from feeling like his football career may be over to debuting in the NFL on live television. When the moment actually came, he felt focused and prepared to take it on. 

When the pandemic hit, Taylor found himself unsure of what his next move should be. He inquired about possible coaching opportunities and was urged to finish his degree first and foremost. He decided to move in with his sister, enroll in the classes needed to earn his degree, and take up coaching. Motivated by his brother-in-law, he was still training during this time for the small possibility that he may get a call to play. In December 2020, his agent called to inform him that he was being offered a spot in Washington D.C. He was originally brought on to fill in if the team got Covid. The next thing he knew, he was in the game. He completed 26 of 44 passes, 306 yards, threw a touchdown, and more. Two months later, the Redskins came to him with a contract. 

Then, Taylor walks us through the complexities of what is typically being called on and off as the players approach the line of scrimmage. In the huddle, different terms are called out, and the players are expected to know exactly what they mean and why they will work. He shares that this was tough to adjust to as a rookie college player entering the league. He speaks about how timeouts disrupt the focus and momentum of a play. As a leader and player, it’s crucial to keep an aura around you that shows you’re in charge and know what you’re doing. In the huddle, he makes a point to make eye contact with every single player. Demonstrating confidence is the best way to make sure his team is feeling confident, too. He also shares the difference in the atmosphere of pre-pre game warm-ups vs. pre-game warm-ups. 

Taylor’s conditioning consists of a 50/50 mix of cardio and weight training, focusing predominantly on the lower body. Rather than focusing on flexibility, his trainer works to strengthen everything surrounding the joints to ensure they don’t pop when impacted during play. It is a different approach to training, but Taylor has yet to be injured. 

He reveals that most of the team didn’t have a say in changing the name from the Redskins to the Washington Football Team to the Commanders. Willy and Taylor then discuss the upcoming season with Carson now in the starting slot. He anticipated this would happen but just wasn’t sure who it would be in the position. At the end of the day, he is preparing and training just the same backing up as he would if he were starting. Finally, he opens up about his childhood dreams of being a professional athlete and how often he was told that the dream was too far-fetched.

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