In a team meeting, Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian immediately pivoted from discussing Saturday’s plan — “One last thing. Michael Taaffe, you’re on scholarship.”
The sophomore safety was immediately mobbed by his teammates, eventually emerging from the fray to express his gratitude with the same brevity as Sarkisian made the announcement.
“Appreciate you boys. Hook ‘em!”
A 6’0, 187-pounder, Taaffe also competed in track at Austin Westlake while serving as a playmaking force on head coach Todd Dodge’s defense, recording 37 tackles with a sack, three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), and one fumble recovery as a junior. In the 6A-Division II state title game in 2019, a 24-0 win over Denton Guyer, Taaffe was named the Defensive MVP.
As a senior, Taaffe took on a larger role, playing in all three phases, notching 60 tackles (48 solo), seven tackles for loss, five interceptions, seven quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery while catching 18 passes for 297 yards and three touchdown receptions and adding 19 punt returns for 356 yards (18.7 ypr).
In another state title game, this time against Southlake Carroll and his current teammate Quinn Ewers, Taaffe once again earned Defensive MVP honors after picking off Ewers not once, but twice, including a remarkable leaping, one-handed interception against the star quarterback.
After the standout career with the Chaps, Taaffe picked up offers from Brown and Colgate, along with a preferred walk-on spot at Rice, but accepted a walk-on spot at Texas just weeks after the big win over Southlake Carroll, remaining close to home and betting on himself that he could eventually find a way onto the field at Texas.
In 2021, Taaffe didn’t make an appearance for the Longhorns, but he did make an impact on the depth chart during the spring, emerging as the second-team nickel back in the Orange-White game.
Taaffe’s trajectory as an important player for Texas took off during the summer when he served as the host for 2023 No. 1 prospect Arch Manning and helped the Longhorns secure the quarterback’s coveted commitment.
During the 2022 regular season, Taaffe played on special teams while also contributing at nickel back and safety, appearing in all 12 games and recording 25 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, and a pass broken up.
Now he’ll serving as an steady cog in the defensive back rotation while as a scholarship player for the Horns.