Talley was an All-League performer for Shaw High School and Coach Vince Shelby. He was also the captain of both the football team and the track teams as a senior, while also earning three letters in each sport. Talley redshirted the 1978 campaign. However, he returned the next season and was ranked as the Mountaineers' fourth-leading tackler with 83 stops. He was also credited with four tackles for losses and two quarterback sacks. He also intercepted two passes against Richmond including a 12-yard return for a touchdown. Returning for his second year as a starter at outside linebacker, he was the second leading tackler on the team, despite a nagging neck injury over the last week of the season. For the year, he had 127 total tackles with 67 unassisted. He also had nine tackles for losses, four sacks, two fumble recoveries and one blocked kick. That year, he was selected honorable mention All-America by the Associated Press. For his career, Talley recorded three career interceptions, returning two for touchdowns (Virginia in 1980 and Richmond in 1979). As a junior, he recorded a phenomenal 139 tackles which topped the team. He was also named Associated Press All-America third team and AP All-East first team. Returning his senior year he was considered one of college football's top defensive players.