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CU's Taylor wins Esports national championship

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Cumberland University Esports is celebrating its first National Championship winner after concluding the inaugural season of play earlier this month.

Dual sport athlete Jaylen Taylor won the National Esports Collegiate Conference playing "Madden".

Taylor came to Cumberland as a wide receiver for the Phoenix football team.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling, thinking back just a year ago we were glad we got the program going,” Esports coach Spencer Claypool said.

“After growing up with Jaylen and seeing him win it’s just an unreal feeling.”

Taylor competed against Bethel University and Carroll University en route to the finals.

He faced off against teammate Austin Bush (Senior, Wilson Central) in the finals and won.

Bush fought his way back from the losers bracket to go against Taylor again in the Grand Finals.

“In my eyes, they’re both national champions,” Claypool said. “They met each other there and both worked to get there.”

Prior to when Taylor officially joined the Esports program, he told Claypool he was going to win a National Championship, and it’s been a little bizarre for him since he fulfilled his promise.

“It just feels surreal that I won an Esports championship and now I’m going to try and win an actual football championship in the fall,” Taylor said.

As the gifted receiver prepares for the 2022 football season he plans to stay active in his gaming and can’t wait to play the new Madden 23 game when it is released in August.

A balance Taylor is more than happy to have as an athlete.

Taylor said he used the Carolina Panthers in the Grand Finals when facing Bush.

“They’re a speed-based team,” Taylor said.

“I knew Austin liked to run deep routes, so I had to maneuver and adjust my speed corners and put them on the field. I got pressure to the quarterback but I also used my speed defensive backs to my advantage.”

Leaving Bush to play inch-by-inch led to Taylor’s game plan holding on to win the Grand Finals.

“We both used teams that we hadn’t used before to make it even,” Taylor said.

“As a competitor, you always want to win, I’m just grateful and blessed to come out on top with Spencer being a good mentor. It was good to see all the hard work pay off.”

With the first National Championship out of the way in the inaugural year there is hope to have more hardware in the trophy case soon and not just in the Madden category.

“I see them winning some national titles next year,” Taylor said. “With all of the recruits coming in, I don’t see anyone competing with all of the other sports we have next season.”

Claypool added that there will be a second gaming arena built for the program going into this coming school year.

Both arenas are located inside Alumni Hall at the corner of Leeville Pike and South Maple Street.

“We’re continuing to grow and advance the community here and be a powerhouse,” Claypool said.