UNIVERSITY PARK — His college wrestling career may have ended but the few days following David Taylor's second NCAA championship win have been pretty busy.
He inked an endorsement deal with Flips Wrestling to sell and promote his own line of colorful wrestling socks. He's done a few interviews and sat in on a local radio show. Recently, he's turned his focus to training for April's upcoming U.S. Open. On Tuesday, Taylor accomplished something else — he won the Dan Hodge Trophy.
Taylor garnered 167 points in the Hodge Trophy balloting and earned 38 first place votes. Ohio State's Logan Steiber was second with 107 points while Taylor's teammate Ed Ruth was third with 102. Stieber got three first place votes while Ruth got two.
“For pure wrestling talent, I have seen only five or six wrestlers over the past 50 years who could match David Taylor,” Hodge Trophy founder Mike Chapman said in a release. “He was a constant-motion machine and wrestled with an enthusiasm that delighted fans of not only Penn State but from other colleges, as well. If everyone competed like David Taylor, wrestling would be one of the most popular sports in America.”
It is the second time Taylor has been awarded college wrestling's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
He won it following an unbeaten 2012 season that was capped by his first NCAA title at 165 pounds. Taylor ended the 2013-14 season in similar fashion. The Penn State senior finished 34-0 and beat Oklahoma State's Tyler Caldwell 6-0 in the finals inside Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“I really appreciate all the support I've had in my career,” Taylor said in a Penn State release. “Sometimes it was difficult always having the target on your back, but it drove me to do what I did. After I won my fourth Big Ten title, everyone got up and applauded, including the Iowa fans. That meant a lot to me, and I just want to thank everybody.”
Penn State fans — and wrestling fans in general — gave Taylor the standing ovation in Oklahoma City recognizing one of the most dominant careers in all the sport.
Taylor finished his career 134-3 and earned bonus points in 91 percent of his matches. He tied former Nittany Lion Josh Moore's record for career falls with his 53rd in the NCAA quarterfinals. With his second Hodge win, Taylor joined Penn State coach Cael Sanderson and Missouri's Ben Askren as the only multiple Hodge winners in the award's 20-year history.
“The way you compete is bigger than if you won or lost,” Sanderson said. “This kid has a passion for wrestling and was an entertainer and was trying to score points the whole seven minutes. He wouldn't be a two-time Hodge winner if he didn't wrestle to dominate. And you wouldn't have that amount of success unless you competed the way David did and that was fearlessly.”
Along with Ruth, who earned bonus points in 76 percent of his bouts, Taylor helped provide one of the best one-two punches in college wrestling history. Him and Ruth combined to earn 41 percent of Penn State's team points during its four-straight NCAA team championships.
Ruth became Penn State's first three-time NCAA champion when he beat Maryland's Jimmy Sheptock 7-2 for the 184-pound title. It was the third time Ruth finished in the Top 5 of the Hodge balloting.
“If I had to pick what people remembered of me, it's that every time I stepped on the mat I tried to dominate the guys I wrestled,” Taylor said. “I think Ed Ruth and myself we were the start of that change in the guard in wrestling,” Taylor said. “We started to change the sport, to go out and score points. I don't want to be remembered as the guy who won twice or lost twice (in the NCAA finals in 2011 and `13), but as one of the most dominating wrestlers in the history of college wrestling.”