Every good love story has some unique ingredients.
In the case of Darrell and Courtney Britt, the list includes Skittles, Starbursts, Pee-Wee football and a broken finger.
And, of course, the young football player who brought them together by happy — or at least mostly happy — coincidence.
Now a sophomore Nebraska defensive back, Cam Taylor in 2012 was just a youth football player in Montgomery, Alabama, with a pre-practice routine.
“There was a ritual of us buying Starbursts and/or Skittles for the coaches before we went to practice and Cam was like, ‘We’ve got to get Coach D his candy,'” Courtney, Cam's mom, recalled this week. “We’d go by the gas station before practice and we had to get them their candy and it just became this thing.”
“It was weird to me, because I was like, 'Wow, they’re bringing me candy every day,'" said Darrell, who coached defensive backs and had Cam as a pupil. "And I didn’t ask for it and it kind of blew my mind in a sense.
"Me and Courtney, we just kind of started having small talk and talking, and every day, just conversating, and we just found out that we have so much in common and had so much alike,” Darrell said.
Then, there was the finger incident.
“(Cam) and his teammate were, you know, kind of jawing at each other a little bit, and I got in the middle of it before it escalated, and I took a helmet to the hand on my finger and (Cam) broke my finger on his helmet,” Darrell said with a laugh.
A trip to the urgent care followed, and you know how that goes. It takes forever.
“We sat in PriMed for hours that night,” Darrell said.
Over time, though, a serious relationship blossomed.
“It just eventually turned into something we didn’t even plan on and it just kind of happened, which I think is the best,” Courtney said.
The couple was married in 2014, but not before making sure that it was OK with Courtney's kids.
“Cam has had trust issues in the past with different situations and things that have gone on, but once he trusts you, he’s loyal for life. He’s a very loyal kid,” Courtney said. “You see the outgoing and exuberant personality, but he’s my most sensitive kid out of all three of them. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. (He and Darrell) have a really special relationship."
Fast forward four years, and that loyalty sparked an idea in Cam’s mind. He told his mom he’d like to change his name officially from Cam Taylor to Cam Taylor-Britt. It didn’t come to fruition right away, and Cam and Courtney kept the idea a secret from Darrell, but they started the lengthy process this summer.
Paperwork, background checks and a court petition followed. Cam had to go back to Lincoln for the start of camp, but eventually a judge signed off and Cam officially became a Taylor-Britt.
He relayed the news to his stepdad via FaceTime.
“Oh, man, it was overwhelming. I didn’t think it would happen, honestly,” Darrell said. “It says a lot to me. It made me feel like a good job, in a sense. It was a great feeling.”
Cam didn’t mention anything to Nebraska’s media relations people, so his name didn’t change right away on Nebraska’s roster. But the equipment folks were in the loop, so "Taylor-Britt" was sewn onto the back of his red No. 5 jersey ahead of the Huskers’ season opener against South Alabama last week.
The sophomore proceeded to turn in easily the best game of his young career, registering a pair of game-changing plays in the fourth quarter with NU holding a narrower-than-expected lead. He came free on a blitz and blasted USA quarterback Cephus Johnson on the first snap of the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble that Alex Davis recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Later, he intercepted a tipped pass in the red zone to help preserve a two-score margin.
“It felt great,” Taylor-Britt said. “My stepdad couldn’t be at the game, but he was watching with my little brother at home, and I looked at my phone and he sent me a text message saying, 'It’s on your jersey! It’s on your jersey!’”
The forced fumble showed Taylor-Britt's versatility because he switched from cornerback to safety on the fly, and that play was his first in college at the position.
Taylor-Britt played mostly corner last year and this preseason camp, and he was primarily a quarterback for Park Crossing High before that. When he set out to make the transition full time to defensive back in college, he had an ace up his sleeve: Darrell.
“Any free time we had, if we found ourselves just sitting in the house doing nothing, he’d say, 'Hey, Dad, let’s go to the field,’” Darrell said. “We’ll go out on the field or we’ll sit and watch film. I have a little whiteboard, so we’ll go over stuff on the whiteboard.
“Anything that we needed on the basics for being a defensive back at the college level, we made sure we got covered.”
Courtney and her daughter were in the building for the performance, while Darrell and Jaden, a talented class of 2021 recruit in his own right, watched at home. Both parents said they noticed Taylor lined up at safety early in the fourth quarter and thought a big play was coming.
“I’m sure you saw the photo of us crying, and that was not my intention,” Courtney said. “I was not going up (to Lincoln) to boo-hoo, but I guess the emotions just kind of overcame me once the realization set in of what he actually did as a sophomore.
“I guess it really just hit me on Saturday like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you really did it.’ It was unreal.”
My heart is so full! Proud does not begin to express how I truly feel. Cam, you made your mother cry today, but they were tears of joy. Great job representing your family & the state of Alabama on & off the field! The best is yet to come! (Jeremiah 29:11) 🙏🏽 #GBR #Huskers pic.twitter.com/5sSJpFpNCR— Courtney Britt (@CoriElise4) September 1, 2019
So what’s in a name? Some college coaches don’t put players' names on the back of their jerseys because they think it comes off as being all about the player rather than the team. In this case, that really couldn’t be much further from the truth. In this name — like in anyone’s, really — there are stories, there’s romance and trial and tribulation.
And there’s pride.
"Just to make him proud because he’s been here most of my whole life and to make him proud, that’s something big for me," Taylor-Britt said.