Becoming a 'Bigg Dogg': After his father's death, Cephus finds strength in football

Wide receiver Quintez Cephus set a career high with 99 yards on four catches against Northwestern, one day before his late father's birthday.

Image By: Brandon Moe

Andre Taylor was known as “Bigg Dogg,” and he called everybody he knew Bigg Dogg. Not everybody, though, was a Bigg Dogg.

That distinction meant everything to his son, Quintez Cephus, and when Taylor was murdered in April, the Wisconsin Badgers’ wide receiver needed to be a Bigg Dogg more than ever.

“That’s just what he used,” Cephus said. “But to be a Big Dogg, he used me just making it out of our neighborhood, doing the right thing, trying to provide for our family — that’s really what he considered being a Big Dogg.”

Taylor dedicated his life to raising his son right, to help him become something bigger than his difficult upbringing and escape the streets of Macon, Georgia.

His shooting death changed Cephus’ life forever and fuels the sophomore to make something of his life. He hopes to provide for his family and to get them out of the environment that continues to cause so much pain.

“While my heart is torn I try to think about you and not worry because you always told me you got it, you Biggdogg, just handle business and I got everybody else,” Cephus wrote in an Instagram tribute to his father. “I'm gonna make them six figures one day soon and provide for momma.”

Every game seems to bring Cephus one step closer to that six-figure salary at the next level. This year was supposed to be redshirt senior Jazz Peavy’s year to headline the offense and generate NFL buzz, but it’s the sophomore from Macon who has stepped into the spotlight.

Cephus leads the Badgers in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns through five games this season. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s averaging the second-highest yards per route run among FBS wide receivers, making the most of every time he steps on the field.

“His confidence is through the roof right now,” Peavy said. “He’s having a lot of fun doing it and he knows what he’s doing. So being confident in our game plan and his own abilities has allowed him to really grow.”

Cephus’ growth might have been most apparent in Wisconsin’s week five win over Northwestern. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound receiver set a career-high with 99 yards on four catches, all coming on the day before his late father’s birthday.

“It was special,” Cephus said. “I wanted to play well and honor him, so it was great.”

That Sunday, Oct. 1, would have been Bigg Dogg’s 40th birthday. Cephus wasn’t able to join his family back in Georgia, but he was there in spirit, the same way Taylor was for his son’s big game the day before.

“It’s obviously something a lot of people can’t relate to,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook said. “You don’t really know exactly what he’s going through, but you just feel for him, and you’re there for him as much as you can.”

Cephus has no shortage of teammates and coaches there for him to provide support whenever he’s needed it. Wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore even traveled with him to Macon to see his father on life support before he passed away.

The love and friendship shared by this group of receivers is special, and Cephus feels like that’s what’s made this 2017 season so special for him and his undefeated Badgers.

“I think guys are playing for each other. That’s what everybody wants — guys that play for each other, do whatever they can to help the next guy,” Cephus said. “Obviously, there’s things we have to work on going forward, but I think guys are putting it together.”

Playing for each other and doing whatever they can help. That’s how the late Andre Taylor raised his son, and that’s what being a Bigg Dogg is all about.

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