MSU Game Offers Extra Motivation For AU Receiver

Sophomore Courtney Taylor discusses Auburn's upcoming Southeastern Conference road opener.

Auburn, Ala.--Sophomore receiver Courtney Taylor is excited about his role in the Auburn offense this season, and is looking forward to making the trip to Starkville to take on the Bulldogs Saturday.

"I grew up about an hour and fifteen minutes from Starkville," Taylor says. "I used to go to basketball camps up there all the time. There's going to be tons of my family members there. That'll give me even more motivation and I'm going to try to score for them."

Taylor, who was a basketball star and a quarterback for Carrollton (Ala.) High School, has caught a pass in all 14 games of his collegiate career, but has yet to score a touchdown for the Tigers. He came close to scoring in the opener against Louisiana-Monroe, but will have to wait until Saturday to give it another try.

"I was a little disappointed that I didn't score in the first game, but I made a couple of plays and helped the team out," Taylor says. "This week I'm more focused and more determined, and I'm going to try to get in."

Against the Indians, Taylor caught a slant pass in the second quarter from Brandon Cox, broke a tackle and needed one more open-field block to turn it into a score. "I saw the guy behind me and I was trying to get Anthony (Mix) and Devin (Aromashodu) to get the guy behind because I was stumbling," he says. "I was telling Mix to get him, but he didn't know what I was talking about."

Mix recalls the play a different way. "I think he ran into my guy. It all just happened really fast," he says.

Mix (9) watches as Taylor tries to escape on his 39-yard pass catch and run vs. Louisiana-Monroe.

Later in the second quarter, Taylor got open in the end zone on a busted coverage, but quarterback Jason Campbell was unable to get him the ball. "Ronnie Brown bumped back into me," Campbell says. "That knocked the ball off. I hated that real bad because I told Courtney that would be his first collegiate touchdown pass because he was wide open in the corner." Campbell's pass fell short and was intercepted.

The game coming up Saturday is one that Taylor is looking forward to not only because it is the SEC opener, but also because of his relationships with some of the Bulldog players. "I know Omarr Conner real well," he says. "He's from Noxubee County (High School). I've known him for a little bit. Noxubee County is only about 30 or 40 minutes from where I stay. I just talked to him and he was reminiscing about old times when he was in high school."

Conner, who was a standout basketball player in high school as well, is the Mississippi State starting quarterback this season after playing receiver as a freshman.

Although Taylor grew up close to Starkville, former coach Jackie Sherrill and his staff didn't recruit him as a football player. "Not in football," the sophomore receiver says. "They were recruiting me in basketball around my sophomore and junior year. Mississippi State was really the only big school to recruit me in basketball. I had a lot of small schools like Tennessee Tech and New Mexico State, but I wasn't about to go way out to New Mexico. I had a lot of small D-I schools, but Mississippi State was the only SEC school that offered me in basketball."

Taylor says that he and his teammates watched the LSU-Oregon State game Saturday night, but notes that their attention this week is on the Bulldogs. "We're not looking at to LSU," he says. "It's one game at a time. LSU…when they get here, they get here and we'll focus on them, but right now it's Mississippi State. You can't put anything past Mississippi State. They looked good against Tulane so we've got to get ready for them."

The Auburn players and coaches spent a lot time Sunday and Monday watching film from the Mississippi State 28-7 win against Tulane, and have been impressed with what they've seen from Sylvester Croom's first game as head coach.

"We're taking them seriously, no doubt," Taylor says of the Bulldogs. "They're fired up about the new coach, and, of course, they have home field advantage. I can remember a couple of years ago, the game was real close until the fourth quarter, and the crowd was real loud and excited. They've got a new coach and a lot of people behind them this year. We have to be focused. We've got to go in there with a strong head and just play hard."

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