"It Is Time To Move On'

Taylor Bourgeois was looking for any way he could find to avoid what turned out to be the inevitable.

Auburn, Ala.--The interview was over five minutes earlier, but Taylor Bourgeois still had something he wanted to say.

The six-foot-five, 307-pound offensive tackle and guard for the Auburn Tigers had earlier announced he was reluctantly having to give up football because of a chronic shoulder problem. However, he decided he wanted to add two more points to what he had said earlier when explaining why he was putting away the pads for good.

"One, this is the greatest coaching staff in the world, I couldn't ask for better support," Bourgeois said. "Two, there are no what ifs in my mind. I know for a fact in my heart that I gave it all I had."

Taylor Bourgeois is shown in a summer workout a few weeks before his first college start last season.

Bourgeois came to Auburn in 2001 along with fellow Brentwood, Tenn., Academy teammate Jake Slaughter, who is the No. 2 fullback for the Tigers. Bourgeois was an All-State lineman in high school who quickly impressed the coaches during a redshirt year in 2001.

He used that transition time wisely and earned a starting job on opening day 2002 against Southern Cal. Now, almost a year to the day later, he announced that he is giving up football after reinjuring the shoulder a second time this preseason while trying to prepare for Saturday's rematch vs. Southern Cal.

Bourgeois said he was afraid this day was coming two weeks ago when he had to leave the practice field during two-a-days after spending nearly a year rehabbing the shoulder following surgery that cut short his redshirt freshman season after starting four games at tackle and playing in another. "I had two weeks to get ready for this," he said of his decision to put away the pads for good. "Last time I thought this was pretty much it, but I decided to give it one more shot."

The offensive lineman, who has been offered and has accepted a position as a student assistant coach, says he plans to stay at Auburn and earn a degree in building science. He says he plans to either build houses for a living or coach football at the high school level. "Right now my major is logistics, but I think I am going to change it to building science," he noted.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville and offensive line coach Hugh Nall have high praise for Bourgeois as both an athlete and as a person. Nall said the versatile redshirt sophomore, who could play guard and tackle and do both very well, will be definitely missed. Nall said that Bourgeois was one of the best young linemen he has coached.

Taylor Bourgeois

Bourgeois said giving up football is not what he wants to do. "I don't want to put a whole lot of glory on myself or anything, but I know I did everything I could do. I stayed late in the weight room everyday. I did the rehab everyday, even after I was done. It is out of my hands. There are better things for me, I guess."

Saturday will be a tough day for the big lineman who was looking forward to playing in the big intersectional showdown at Jordan-Hare Stadium matching No. 6 Auburn vs. No. 8 Southern Cal in a rematch of a game the Trojans won last year in Los Angeles. "That is going rough," he said. "That is going to be real rough. I worked real hard and I wanted to play. I wanted to get a game in. That's life....It's the hardest decision I have ever made. I have shed all the tears I am going to shed. It is time to move on."

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