Robinson High alumnus Shawn Taylor, offensive line coach at his alma mater the past 10 seasons, has been hired to replace Mike DePue as Knights coach.
Taylor and DePue confirmed the hiring Thursday afternoon. Taylor, a social studies teacher at Robinson, is expected to be formally introduced by the school Friday.
"It's a dream come true," said Taylor, a former Knights offensive lineman. "The thing is how fast it got here. I've been coaching with Mike since '03. I hoped it would come one day and the decade flew by."
A 31-year-old married father of one, Taylor won the job over five other finalists including fellow Robinson alumni Rob Burns (offensive coordinator) and Craig Everhart (receivers coach). His Robinson heritage runs deeply; a member of the Class of 2000, he has had 16 family members come through the Port Tampa school.
He replaces the program's alltime winningest coach; DePue retired at the end of the 2012 season with a nine-year record of 72-43.
"I'm glad it was kept in the Robinson family," DePue said. "Shawn can continue the tradition and build on what we've established here. He's seen how it's done."
Nonetheless, the solid foundation will require some new construction atop it, especially on offense.
Robinson graduates its entire starting offensive line, quarterback, leading rusher and top three receivers from its 12-2 Class 5A state semifinalist. Additionally, it moves into a nine-team 6A district with Armwood, Chamberlain, Hillsborough and Jefferson, among others.
Taylor suggested the program he inherited Thursday is stoked for the challenge. He said 20 total JV and varsity coaches remain on board, and reported 60 kids at an after-school weightlifting workout Thursday.
"The guys are real excited to play against teams like that," Taylor said. "I was surprised at how excited my coaches were. It transfers to the kids. I haven't talked to one coach who hasn't said, 'Bring it on.'"