Former Ole Miss LB Tayler Polk looks forward to returning to the Vaught, this time as Troy linebackers coach
OXFORD, Miss. – Troy inside linebackers coach Tayler Polk spent a playing career at Ole Miss making memories. September 3, he is hoping to create more memories as a Rebels’ opponent.
Let's all watch and relish in the absurdity of the replay of Tayler Polk covering Christian Kirk. pic.twitter.com/zahs1VmfvT
— Ben Garrett (@SpiritBen) November 19, 2017
Ole Miss opens the season Saturday against the Trojans, Polk’s first game as a full-time FBS assistant coach, along with Jon Sumrall, a former Ole Miss assistant who is in his first season as Troy’s head coach.
As he prepares for his first time as a coach, Polk cannot help remembering his fondest memories from his time in Oxford.
“Probably the 2017 Egg Bowl,” Polk said.
“We weren’t going to let coach (Matt) Luke lose that one. We needed to get to six wins for him.”
Tayler Polk on his most memorable game as a Rebel
The Rebels got to six wins that year by beating Mississippi State, 31-28, in Starkville.
But that is history. Now Polk must prepare for the season opener in familiar territory that will be in some ways unfamiliar.
“I think I have only been in the visitors’ locker room once (at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium) and on the visitors sideline once,” Polk said. “So, it is going to be a little surreal.”
There will be something else that will be kind of surreal for Polk. He will see someone in an Ole Miss uniform wearing the number 24 he donned as a Rebel. That player, Ulysses Bentley IV, transferred to Oxford from SMU with an impressive resume.
“He is a heck of a player,” Polk said. “I can only hope we don’t see him in the game a whole lot.”
Even if Bentley is not in the game a lot, Polk knows the Rebels’ have a lot of weapons on the offense.
“I think their offense is nothing short of dynamic. All the running backs are explosive, they run a fast tempo and they get chunk plays.”
Troy LB Coach Tayler Polk on the Rebels’ offense
Polk on Troy linebacker Carlton Martial
To stop the Ole Miss offense, Polk and the Trojans will rely on players like linebacker Carlton Martial. Polk is confident of the senior’s abilities.
“He is a leader, the best I have ever been around, and he has a big football IQ. He is short, but he is powerful, a twister and he is quick and fast, he is just an impressive player.”
Tayler Polk on Troy LB Carlton Martial
Martial was recently named as a preseason All-American by The Athletic. He is 104 tackles shy of being the all-time leader in that category in FBS history.
But that might not be the only impressive thing about Martial. Like Polk at Ole Miss, the Mobile, Ala., native began his career as a walk-on. That gives Polk and Martial a kinship, and the linebacker coach appreciates what his player has done and what he does for the program.
“He is a unique, special player and he deserves everything he has earned,” Polk said. “He does everything the right way and he is a monster on the field.”
Ole Miss and the Trojans will meet at 3 p.m., in a game that will be aired on the SEC Network.
(Feature image credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.