Montclair, NJ (10/8/09) – Senior Taylor Bonner ( Old Bridge, NJ / Old Bridge) was chosen as the Division III Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year by the Collegiate Athletic Administrators of New Jersey (CAANJ) for the 2008-09 academic year. Bonner was presented with his award at the organization’s luncheon on Thursday in Somerset, NJ.
Bonner becomes the fourth MSU athlete to be honored in the last five years. Soccer standouts Stephanie Sabaliauskas and Bill Anthes were honor in 2005 and 2007, respectively with softball All-American being named for the 2007-08 academic year.
A dual-sport athlete, Taylor Bonner was a major contributor to the success of both the Montclair State football and lacrosse teams during the 2008-09 academic year.
Last Fall, Bonner joined the Red Hawk football squad, his first gridiron season since high school. A reserve defensive back throughout the season, Bonner had a great impact on the MSU special teams, which were one of the best in the New Jersey Athletics Conference. Playing on the kickoff and punt teams, Bonner recorded six solo tackles. He would make his biggest play for Montclair in a key NJAC game with Rowan, blocking a punt that would eventually result in a touchdown as MSU defeated Rowan 30-14 keeping their NCAA Playoff hopes alive. Montclair State would finish the season at 8-3 and make its second straight post-season appearance as MSU played in the ECAC South Central Bowl. This year, Bonner scored his first career touchdown as he recovered a blocked punt in the end zone in a 52-0 win over Morrisville State last month.
In the Spring, Bonner was a standout midfielder for the MSU men’s lacrosse team that recorded the best season in the history of the program. Appearing and starting all 18 contests, he finished third on the team in scoring with 44 points and was second with 32 goals. In addition he was second on the team with 57 ground balls and also forced 11 turnovers. Bonner was named the Skyline Conference Player of the Week in April following his four-goal performance, including the game-winner in an 8-7 victory over Richard Stockton and he would later be named First-Team All-Skyline as well as an ECAC Division III Metro-South All-Star. With Bonner leading the way, Montclair posted a 13-5 mark, including a second straight undefeated Skyline regular season record. The Red Hawks would capture the league tournament and advance to the NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse championship for the first time in program history.
But Bonner’s accomplishments go way beyond the gridiron and the lacrosse field. An outstanding student-athlete, he was named the Male Scholar-Athlete award winner at Montclair State in May and currently has a 3.585 cumulative grade-point average as a Health Education major. Bonner also participated in several of the Red Hawks TALON community service initiatives, and spearheaded Montclair’s involvement in the “Lax for Autism” campaign that raised several hundred dollars at MSU’s April lacrosse contest against Kean University.
Throughout his career, Taylor Bonner was been an exemplary student-athlete. He has been described by coaches and teammates as hard-working and a fine teammate – a person who would do anything to help anyone no matter what the circumstances. Perhaps that was never more evident that in January of this year when Bonner and his father Michael, helped save the life of an 11-year-old girl as the two caught the youngster after she leaped from the roof of her burning house in Old Bridge. The house was ablaze just up the street from Bonner’s residence. After hearing cries for help from a second story window, the two men raced to the house and found the girl sitting on top of the roof over the front door.
The two men encouraged the girl to jump, which she did falling into the arms as the three then hit the ground. All three escaped without injury. The girl then attempted to run back into the house to save her dog, but was held back by Taylor as the fire roared on until fire fighters brought the blaze under control.