Former Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro has died at age 28, the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office in Virginia announced Wednesday night.
According to the sheriff’s office, deputies were dispatched to the 100 block of Windsor Lane at approximately 3:07 p.m. Wednesday for a call of someone needing medical attention. Medics also arrived and transported the patient to a local hospital where he later died. The office did not disclose a cause of death.
Taliaferro, a Yorktown, Virginia, native, was selected by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft. A former Coastal Carolina standout who was named Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Year and a Walter Payton Award finalist, Taliaferro spent three years in the NFL, all with the Ravens, rushing for 339 yards and five touchdowns.
The Ravens released Taliaferro before the start of the 2017 season and he had a brief stint with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League in 2018.
On Wednesday night, former teammates and members of the Coastal Carolina and Yorktown community paid their respects to Taliaferro on social media.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Lorenzo Taliaferro,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in a statement Thursday morning. “Lorenzo was a kind, smart, respectful and determined young man — someone always committed to his teammates and well-liked by everyone in our organization. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Lorenzo’s family. May he rest in peace.”
Phillip Scott, a Roanoke, Virginia, native who played against Taliaferro in high school and then alongside him at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, remembered his former teammate in a Facebook post.
“Lost another brother tonight!“ he wrote. “Played against each another in the state championship! And got a chance to be teammates in college! And he became a brother! He was a fighter! He never gave up! ￼￼keep his family in your prayers! Lacklife for forever!”
Taliaferro was a 205-pound fullback at Lackawanna in 2010 and 2011 before transferring to Coastal Carolina, then a member of the Football Championship Subdivision. He later said the experience helped him develop the toughness, stamina and blocking skills to emerge as a running back, and he rushed for 292 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie in 2014 for the playoff-bound Ravens.
“I probably was a free agent without pass blocking,” Taliaferro said in 2017. “The ability to be a great pass protector is what got me drafted.”
Ravens special teams coordinator Chris Horton called the news “tragic” on Thursday.
“The one thing about this guy is he was loved by his teammates, because of how he went out and worked [and] how he handled his business,” Horton said. “He was great. He was kind. He always had a smile on his face. When he came to work, he was going to work. It’s just unfortunate when you come in and with everything that’s going on in the world, you hear that a teammate, a guy you coached, that has passed away. It’s just sad — it’s tragic.”
He ended each season with the Ravens on injured reserve, battling foot, knee and thigh injuries. During training camp in 2017, he switched positions from running back to fullback to try to find a consistent role in the offense.
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“Blocking, that has always been my strong point, like pass protection,” said Taliaferro, who was cut before the season started in September. “It’s technique to it, but it’s more of a will. If you’re willing to stick your nose in there and get dirty and protect the million dollar man and the guys behind him, that’s all it’s about. I don’t think there’s too much learning. It’s just about willpower.”
Taliaferro starred on the Bruton High School football team that reached the 2009 Group AA Division 3 state final.
As a senior at Bruton, Taliaferro ran for 1,678 yards and 21 touchdowns while also starring at linebacker. Bruton, then one of the smallest AA schools in the state, lost to Northside of Roanoke, 20-17, in the Division 3 championship game when its game-tying field goal attempt was blocked on the final play.
The school retired Taliaferro’s jersey in 2015.
“What made Lorenzo great was that he was typical of so many Bruton players then, in that he was hard-nosed and loyal,” Kyle Neve, a former Bruton head football coach who coached Taliaferro in his first high school season, told The Virginian-Pilot. “He didn’t ask questions about why you were doing something, he just did it and did it the best he could.
“That, and his talent, led to his success.”
Virginian-Pilot reporter Marty O’Brien contributed to this article.