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The Legacy of Taylor Lamb

By BJ Bennett
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There should be a special place in Appalachian State history for Taylor Lamb.

Each time Taylor Lamb took the field, he did so with a heritage measured in hashmarks.

History, even as the program moves forward, has always been a defining part of Appalachian State football. From winning three straight FCS national championships to the famed victory at Michigan, all that has been done in Boone sets the expectation for all that will be. Just as the Mountaineers continue to use past achievements for future motivation, their former quarterback, fresh off a career for the ages, is on a similarly special path.

Simply put, few signal callers in college football, ever, accomplished what Lamb did during his time with the Mountaineers.

Lamb played in 51 games at Appalachian State, starting 49 consecutive contests to finish his tenure. He did more than just help the Mountaineers settle in at the FBS level, Lamb led the team to back-to-back Sun Belt co-Championships, taking Appalachian State to its first three bowl games and winning all three. Over his last 45 games, with the Mountaineers adjusting to a new level of competition, Lamb went a remarkable 36-9 in solidifying ASU as a true group of five power.

Though Lamb leaves Appalachian State, his place in the record books is well-reserved. Lamb is the only player in the existence of the Sun Belt Conference to score over 100 touchdowns as he compiled a total of 113. Correspondingly, Lamb's 90 touchdown passes are the most in the league all-time. His career passer rating of 145.84 is another conference record. Known more for his proficiency as a passer, Lamb also ranks fourth in Sun Belt history for rushing yards by a quarterback.

Quite literally, Lamb doesn't have many peers when it comes to such productivity; since the turn of the century, the only signal callers with at least 9,700 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards are Trevone Boykin, Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Dan Lefevour, Marcus Mariota and Lamb. Of that group, the only two to complete at least 60% of their passes and average at least six yards per carry are Lamb and Mariota, who won the 2014 Heisman Trophy.

The story, with Lamb, is one that deserves to be told. If the Bowdens are football's first family, the Lambs take the field on series number two. Both of Taylor's grandfathers, Jim Acker and Ray Lamb, played in college. Ray is one of the most renowned head coaches in the history of Georgia high school football, additionally working on staff at the University Georgia until his retirement. Among other relatives, Taylor's uncle Hal is also a prominent prep head coach and his cousin Tre played quarterback at Tennessee Tech.

Bobby Lamb, Taylor's dad, is the head coach at Mercer, formerly the head coach at Furman, the place where he starred as a starting quarterback, taking the Paladins to the 1985 FCS championship game as the Southern Conference Player of the Year, and long worked as an assistant. The next win will be the 100th for Bobby, who has been in college coaching for over 30 years. Tre Lamb is now on Bobby's staff, especially apt considering, on Ray Lamb's 1981 state title team at Commerce, Bobby was the quarterback, Hal Lamb was a wide receiver and sister Lynn was a cheerleader.    

Each time Taylor Lamb took the field, he did so with a heritage measured in hashmarks. Lamb's efforts weren't just chronicled in media guides, they were added to the family scrapbook.

Literally and figuratively, Lamb grew up around football, lessons coming through living with some of the game's greatest teachers. Lamb learned through love. He, playing under uncle Hal and uncle Mike Davis, married to sister Lynne, took Calhoun High School to back-to-back state championship game appearances, winning the title as a junior. As a senior, Taylor was named the Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year.

Taking over the starting job at Appalachian State early in his redshirt freshman season, Lamb paced the Mountaineers to six consecutive wins to round out the fall, averaging over 40 points per game in that span. As he broke program records previously held by the legendary Armanti Edwards, Lamb, just the second newcomer ever to lead the Sun Belt in passer rating, was named the league's freshman of the year. Early on, a certain status quo was established.

Season two featured even more of the same. Lamb set a new school mark with 31 touchdown passes, ranking in the national top ten in both passing scores and passer rating. Winning ten of eleven after losing to Clemson, Lamb and Appalachian State claimed a share of the Sun Belt crown and the Mountaineers' first-ever FBS postseason victory with a dramatic Camellia Bowl triumph over Ohio; Appalachian State won on a last-second field goal after Lamb completed a 14-yard pass and scrambled for 32 yards to help setup the final score.

Lamb very nearly opened his junior year with a gritty win at Tennessee as the Mountaineers, leading for most of the contest, ultimately lost in overtime. Displaying his versatility, Lamb developed into more of a rushing threat with over 500 yards in 2016. Again, he was front and center as Appalachian State won a share of the Sun Belt Championship and won another Camellia Bowl. This time, Lamb threw for 119 yards and a touchdown, ran for 126 yards and another score, and was named the game's offensive MVP.

In his final season, Lamb set new career highs with 206 completions, 337 pass attempts, 2,737 passing yards and 584 rushing yards. Among other standout showings, he tossed five first-half touchdowns against Savannah State, threw for 372 yards against Wake Forest and 427 more against Coastal Carolina. Lamb and Appalachian State finished the year with four straight victories. Once more as offensive MVP of the game, he and the Mountaineers dominated Toledo in the Dollar General Bowl.  

When Lamb played his last game, he did so as the most experienced, and one of the most successful, quarterbacks in the country.

Even as Appalachian State transitioned to the game's highest level, Lamb made sure the standards stayed the same. Remarkably, he and the Mountaineers won 27 of their last 30 Sun Belt games. Lamb leaves a legacy of a leadership in Boone. Though he moves on, what is expected remains firmly in place. Like Edwards and others before him, Lamb has only added to the storied tradition at Appalachian State. 

Already, Lamb has started as a graduate assistant at South Carolina. Just like his father a generation prior, Taylor, with a deep passion for the game he played so well, has traded in his helmet for a headset. A calling, in this family, comes with checks at the line of scrimmage. 

There should be a special place in Appalachian State history for Lamb. Not far from, fittingly, Grandfather Mountain, Lamb thrived at the game he was born to play. Following in the footsteps of those who came before him, now comes the job he was born to do.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports