Illinois’ Trae Taylor Continues a Family Football Tradition

From Pee-Wee football through the pros, it’s not often that you see a quarterback who calls his own plays. Then again, it’s not often that a player like Trae Taylor takes the field. At 10 years old, he can run the two-minute offense with ease, calling his own plays and moving the team down the field with his surprisingly strong and accurate arm, as well as an advanced on-field IQ. The Lake in the Hills, Ill., resident plays for the 2018 champion Crystal Lake Raiders in the Chicagoland Youth Football League and is slowly but surely gaining attention.

Taylor excels at precision throws and has excellent anticipation, leading each receiver with a strong, fully extended motion. He has a good touch on his throws, as well, knowing when to use the right amount of velocity on short or deep passes. And when he takes off running, he can gain major yardage with his speed.

“There is always something new to learn,” Taylor said of playing QB, “even with the coverages you know.”

His father and head coach of the Raiders, J.R. Taylor, quickly saw the talents of Trae when he began playing football when he was 6 years old.

“You could see it almost immediately,” he recalled. “He was throwing balls 15-20 yards, which is very uncommon [for someone his age].”


Eventually, “He started helping writing up plays, and writing plays for his teammates,” J.R. said.

Trae’s QB coach Mike Hohensee, a former NFL, CFL and USFL quarterback, agrees.

“He’s got an instinct for a game like no other 10 year old,” he noted. “His body of work, his technique is comparable to a good high school player. And his work ethic is incredible.”

Trae’s dad wasn’t that surprised at his skill level, since football has always been a presence in the Taylor family. As a running back, J.R. Taylor played for the CFL, IFL, MSFL and most notably for Eastern Illinois University (EIU). He is in EIU’s Hall of Fame, rushing for 3,705 total yards, which ranks as the fourth-highest total in the university’s history. As a senior in 2002, he led the Ohio Valley Conference in rushing with 1,522 yards and earned consensus first team All-American honors by the Associated Press, Walter Camp, Sports Network and Football Gazette. J.R. was also part of three straight FCS playoff teams alongside fellow EIU Hall of Famer and future Dallas Cowboy QB Tony Romo.

Now, when J.R. and Trae go to the Tony Romo Football Camp in Burlington, Wis., Romo himself teaches Trae the ways of a top-flight QB.

“He takes time out and show him the fundamentals of being a QB,” J.R. said. “We try to go every year.”

“The best advice I got from Tony Romo was to aim for the outside shoulder, just to keep [the receiver] and the ball safe,” Trae said with a smile.

The 2027 athlete earns a large amount of achievements every year, which includes the Youth Gunslingers Challenge Champion, Diamond All-American East vs West Offensive (MVP), Midwest Boom Best of the Best MVP (5th grade) and Diamond All-American, among many more.

This past season, J.R. Taylor noted that the head coach from nearby Crystal Lake High School was very impressed by his future QB.

“He said that he’s doing a lot that the high school kids haven’t figured out yet,” J.R. said.

This year, Taylor is gunning for another championship for the Raiders. “[I’m looking forward to] playing with new teammates,” he said. He’s also aiming to throw 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns.

And yet, despite all of his hard work, leading a football team and facing a bright future, “He’s still a 10-year-old kid,” Mike Hohensee pointed out, adding that he does all the things a regular kid does. “That can be attributed to his family.”

Check out Taylor’s Youth 1 profile

Taylor’s Youth 1 Profile