When Euro veteran running back Jaycen Taylor announced his intention to move to Belgium and play for the Limburg Shotguns last year, he caught many people by surprise. He had just helped the Helsinki Roosters win their sixth title in Finland and was named MVP of Finland’s Maple League.
The 5’10”, 190 lb native of Hawthorne, California, who played for three years at Purdue University and won two Italian titles with the Parma Panthers (2011, 2012) and also played for Austrian powerhouse, the Swarco Raiders in 2013, simply decided to move to his wife’s home country of Belgium and put his football skills and knowledge to work to help develop the game.
The Limburg Shotguns, who have only existed since 2008, played in the Belgian second division in 2017 and moved up to the top division this year. The team is actually based in the small town of Beringen (45,000) in northeast Belgium. Most teams in Belgium do not rely on import players so Taylor’s move to a league which is not on a par with his previous stops in Finland, Austria or Italy, came as a welcome surprise for Limburg.
This past weekend, Taylor put his skills to the test in the opening game of the Belgian league against a perennial powerhouse, the Brussels Tigers, 2017 Belgian finalist. The Shotguns put on a powerful display of rushing, stunning the Tigers, beating them 40-34.
Taylor led the way, rushing for 150 yards and one touchdown. He did not seem to have lost a step. Needless to say, he was happy with his team’s and his own performance:
“Playing here is very close to my first year in Italy. Rugged and rough, guys out for the love of the game and just playing ball. Still have to work technique and angles and all the little things that come with the sport. But overall I enjoyed myself, and very proud of my team. I believe i played well. I don’t want to be the guy to do everything so I like the role I played. I did enough for us in crucial moments and the others did the rest. Which is good!! “
Limburg quarterback Jason Jackson was also a key factor rushing for 130 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for another touchdown.
After the opening weekend of play, the Shotguns are now second in Belgium’s eight-team Elite division and have served notice on the rest of the league. They are for real.
Next up for Limburg are the Antwerp Argonauts on March 25. Needless to say, the game will attract much more attention now.