GP coach had hand in Ike Taylor's NFL future

Grand Prairie football coach Gary Bartel remembers the day Ike Taylor became a defensive back.

Taylor, the starting cornerback for the Steelers in Sunday’s Super Bowl XLV, was a reserve running back and kick returner at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette with one season of eligibility remaining.

Bartel, the secondary coach at ULL at the time, picks up the story: “I knew Ike had the tools to be a cornerback. Our head coach understandably wanted his speed on offense. But the head coach got fired. Before a new coach was hired, I went over to the depth chart display on the wall of the coaches office and moved Ike’s button from running back to cornerback. I told the graduate assistant not to tell a soul. I told Ike he was now a defensive back. The new coach never knew a thing about it.’’

The Bears’ Charles Tillman played the corner opposite from Taylor that season.

“I was a pretty good secondary coach with those two,’’ Bartel said.

On Pro Day at Louisiana-Lafayette, the scouts came to see Tillman, but Bartel remembers Taylor out jumped him and outran him in 40-yard sprints.

“Charles at 207 pounds ran a 4.43 and Ike at 195 pounds came in at 4.39,’’ Bartel recalls.

Tillman went to the Bears in the second round of the 2003 draft with the 35th pick.

Pittsburgh scooped up Taylor in the fourth round as the 125th pick.

Bartel met with Taylor briefly at the Steelers' hotel on Thursday.

“We hugged. It was the first time I’ve seen him in seven years,’’ Bartel said. “I’m really proud of him.’’