CHICAGO — Taylor Decker’s dream has come true.
On Thursday, the former Butler Aviator and Ohio State University standout was drafted with the 16th overall pick by the Detroit Lions.
Decker was a three-year starter for the Buckeyes and helped Ohio State win 54 games in his career, including the national championship in 2015.
Jeff Kreill coached Decker on the basketball court in grades 8-11 and said Taylor was a leader.
“I had the good fortune to coach Taylor and he has an extremely hard work effort,” said Kreill. “He is a leader verbally and by the way he worked on the floor.”
When Decker was home for the Wee Aviator football camp last summer, he spoke about remembering where he came from.
“It’s good to not forget where you came from,” said Decker. “If it wasn’t for this community, this support system, this coaching staff, and this school system I don’t think I’d be where I’m at. I came from a good background and have had people help me and support me every step of the way. I’m thankful for that and I’m fortunate, because not every kid necessarily has that.”
Decker had a simple message for the players.
“Whoever brought you here, whoever it is helping you out, whoever is taking you to practice today, thank them,” he said. “Dedicate yourselves to hard work and if you want to do something and you are willing to sacrifice then you can.”
Thursday’s draft was the culmination of the sacrifice he referred to.
Decker is a Butler High School graduate and played for the Aviator football program. Butler football coach Greg Bush said that while Decker wasn’t a vocal leader of the Aviators, but was a leader nonetheless.
“Obviously he was the leader of our team, and he led by hard work,” said Bush. “His size is a great advantage, he got on his blocks and stayed on them – he never missed a block. He’s the best offensive lineman I’ve ever coached in 28 years of coaching.”
“It is real special as a coach, especially when you consider how many decisions a teenager has to make,” said Bush. “Those decisions are about being a good citizen, good teammate, good student, working hard, and more. Taylor had to make so many good decisions to be where he is at and that is what makes me the proudest.”
Kreill said that Decker is true to his hometown roots.
“Having a Vandalia kid born and raised here have that sort of success is really cool,” he said. “He and his family bleed purple and gold. Everyone in town is very proud.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.