More from Virginia Tech's Bruce Taylor
If you haven't checked it out already, I strongly encourage you read my story on Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor in today's paper. I had a long one-on-one conversation with Taylor this past Monday, and it only confirmed what I thought about the guy through five games this season.
He may make mistakes on the field here and there, but he cares deeply about his performance. The physical flashes he's displayed on the field already showed me that Taylor could be something special for Virginia Tech in a year or two, but after talking with him extensively, I'm convinced he's well ahead of the curve mentally as well.
The problem with writing features like this is that you end up with so much good stuff that doesn't even make the cut. So I figured I would share some more interesting Taylor tidbits with you in this space as we count down the hours to Saturday's noon kickoff against Central Michigan.
*I asked Taylor what he would consider the turning point in his development as a linebacker, and he instantly thought back to a playoff game his sophomore year of high school.
“It’s a game that they kind of make fun of me back home," Taylor said. "We’re playing this team -- they ran the ball every play, I think they threw the ball twice – and a guy ran a play and it broke. It was the first play of the game and it broke for 80 yards and my coach yelled at me. So we came back and that same play, it broke again for a touchdown. I really just said, ‘I gotta focus.’
"So we had this one call where I blitzed and it makes it look like I’m reading the play out, but really I’m just blitzing to the gap. Because they had such great success with the play, they just kept running it over and over. So on film when you watch it, as soon as he takes off, I’m taking off. I had like 30 tackles that game, 20 solo and nine assists. My coaches always pick on me like that game got me into college, like that’s the only reason I’m in college now, because of that one game.”
I confirmed all of that with former Myrtle Beach High Coach Scott Earley, who said "that was the film that ended up getting him so many offers early, how great he played that night.” By the way, I haven't been able to get over Taylor's stats from that sophomore season. He finished with 206 tackles, 42 tackles for loss, and eight forced fumbles. I told Taylor and Earley they must have had a generous statistician, although both claimed the numbers were legitimate.
*Taylor has a unique relationship with defensive coordinator Bud Foster because Foster also coaches the inside linebackers. Taylor even calls Foster one of his "buddies" off the field, and it's easy to see that he looks up to the coach. He's constantly referring to Foster. For instance:
"I know Coach Foster is putting us in great position to make these plays," or "Coach Foster always says, ‘You don’t have to have great athletic ability to give great effort,'" or "Coach Foster says all the time, ‘They were in the same shoes ya’ll were in’" or "Coach Foster always says ‘Know what move you’re gonna do before the play even starts.’"
In light of all that, I mentioned Foster's reaction to the third pass interference penalty called against safety Antone Exum in last week's win over North Carolina State. If you don't remember, Foster threw his hat a good 10 yards onto the field in frustration, and looked apoplectic talking to officials. Taylor's initial response: "I wanted to throw my helmet, too." I followed up by asking about Foster's occasionally angry snarl on the sidelines.
“When I make a bad play, I just look over to the sideline and he’s yelling and going crazy," said Taylor. "We can’t hear him, but I think that’s what makes him even madder. He knows we can’t hear him, but he’s over there flipping everything. I think Coach Foster gets a bad rap, he’s not like that in practice or in the film room. When you mess up, he’s gonna let you know that you messed up. But he’s a real cool guy off the field. We joke around, we have our light moments. He’s funny, he has his jokes from back when he was our age. He’s just a cool guy to hang around.”
*The most impressive thing about Taylor was his outlook on the recruiting process. Though he orally committed to Virginia Tech early on and always wondered whether he would have ended up at Georgia, he told me he also considered South Carolina, North Carolina, and Florida State. But the reasons he became a Hokie struck me as a very mature answer for a 20-year-old who is still getting his first taste of collegiate success.
“It was Tech for a long time," said Taylor. "Brandon Frye played here, and he went to my high school. I saw how he had went through Tech and everything went good for him, how he got injured, they took care of him and stuff. It was something I talked to my family about and my coaches, how they would still bring me through school even if something bad happened. Say I got hurt, they had guaranteed me a scholarship. So if I go and commit now and stay solid with my commitment and not even have to focus on that stuff while I’m playing on Fridays, it would only help me. Just having a clear mind and not worrying ‘Is there a scout here?’ and try to do something extra. I was just out there playing my game, that kind of helped.”
That's it for now. I have a story on Virginia Tech center Beau Warren and his friendship with former high school teammate Colin Miller, who is the starting center for Central Michigan, in tomorrow's paper. Be sure to check that out. I'm also hearing rumors that Lane Stadium might not be filled to capacity Saturday, so if you're not making it to the game follow me on twitter (p.s. we're just 46 people away from 1,000 followers). I'll have some notes and observations there throughout the afternoon.
| October 8, 2010; 1:48 PM ET
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