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Dever looks back at his five years under the dome

South Florida v Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 03: of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish of the University of South Florida Bulls at Notre Dame Stadium on September 3, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. South Florida defeated Notre Dame 23-20. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Jonathan Daniel

For an offensive lineman that was recruited by Charlie Weis, Taylor Dever‘s big break came when Brian Kelly took over the Notre Dame football program. Up until then, Dever was mostly an anonymous tackle, stuck in Sam Young’s shadow, a four-year starter that didn’t give up his job until he graduated and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.

While Dever came out of nowhere to most Irish fans when he won the starting right tackle job in Kelly’s first year, his tale is a rather ordinary one at many big BCS programs, where offensive linemen put in years working their way onto the field in special teams before they’re ready to ascend to a starting position as fourth and fifth year players. As Dever looks back on five years and his final regular season game, his hometown newspaper, The Union of Nevada City, had a very nice look at one of the departing members of the Irish offense.

But a knee injury at the Hawaii Bowl following the 2008 season required surgery and created a new set of challenges to overcome. The following year, Taylor continued to persevere through a tough rehabilitation after his injury, serving both on special teams and as a backup to tackle Sam Young. A tough role indeed as Young was a 6-foot-8-inch, 316-pound, four-year starter who now plays for the Buffalo Bills.

In 2010, with Young moving on to the NFL, Dever was poised to assume his role as a starter, but he would have to do so under a new coach.

Brian Kelly replaced Weis as head coach, and Dever liked what he saw. The same was true for Kelly who gave Dever his first career start in the 2010 home opener against Purdue. He got 10 starts and saw action in 11 games at right tackle.

“The biggest difference I see in Brian (Kelly) is his instilling in us that you have got to do all the little things right to win,” Dever said. “We all have bought into that, and once you get so many guys on board that believe in the same thing and want to do all the little things right, you will start winning a lot of games.

“I strongly believe coach Kelly is a great fit here. I believe he can win a national championship here in the next couple years,” he added.

There’s a lot of really thoughtful stuff in this article and it’s certainly worth a read, and it goes to show you just how interesting of a guy Dever is, who sometimes plays an anonymous role on the offensive line. After a career that included three offensive line coaches and two leaders of the program, Dever acknowledge how different it feels knowing he’s run out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium for the last time.

“When you’re in it, it’s slow. It’s tough. You’re always looking for that light at the end of the tunnel,” Dever said of his bumpy career. “When that senior day passes and you don’t get to do it anymore, it is a different feeling.”