Taylor Made Season For Sophomore Receiver

Courtney Taylor talks about his improvement as a player and playing Tennessee for the second time this season.

Atlanta, Ga.--Courtney Taylor had always been a good football player. The star quarterback for tiny Carrollton High, just outside of Tuscaloosa, Taylor came to Auburn and quickly adapted to the wide receiver position. Following a redshirt year, Taylor had a solid freshman season and is currently Auburn's leading receiver with 32 catches for 539 yards as the Tigers head into Saturday's SEC Championship game against Tennessee.

While Taylor has been able to torch defenses with his combination of size, speed and want to, he credits watching one of Auburn's top seniors to the increase in his productivity and talent on offense. That senior is cornerback Carlos Rogers. Perhaps Auburn's most valuable player this season because of his play on defense and special teams, Rogers' attitude and drive to make it down the field and cover kicks has inspired Taylor to become a better player every day on offense and special teams.

"That's what factored into things," Taylor says of watching Rogers. "I was always at gunner, but I never actually got into the game. Then I remember one game I got in and I thought. 'Oh, my God.' Just from experience and watching Carlos Rogers, I used to figure that Carlos was faster than me, but not that much faster. How is he getting down the field so fast? I was doing regular receiver releases and he was getting off fast. I just put that together with my receiving releases and got better from there. I started progressing and getting better each week. That's my goal.

"I put all that together after that," he adds. "The releases you use at gunner are a whole lot faster than the releases you use when you're just split out. You have to hurry up and get down the field when you're a gunner. I feel like that has helped me get down the field a whole lot faster than I was early in the season."

Taylor catches a pass against Arkansas.

Taylor will be a key component for the Tigers this weekend when they face the Tennessee Volunteers in a rematch of a game won 34-10 by the Tigers in October. In that game Auburn caught the Tennessee defense several times in mismatches with Ronnie Brown and Taylor both able to exploit the Vol secondary. Taylor says this time around it's going to be harder to do that after both teams have seen each other so much on film.

"It's probably going to come down to smash-mouth, SEC style football," Taylor says. "You're probably not going to trick the other team. Both of you have played 11 games. We're going to watch a lot of film on them and they're going to watch a lot of film on us. It's just mano a mano and may the best man win."

Following the decisive Auburn victory, several Tennessee players, including linebacker Kevin Burnett and defensive back Jason Allen, had some controversial comments about the game. Most notable was Burnett, who insisted Auburn wasn't the best team on the field that day. Taylor says the talk coming out of Knoxville this week is just like it was that night, useless to him.

"I don't even worry about it too much," Taylor says. "I remember after the game they were saying they basically gave us the game. We'll take it. If they want to give it to us again we'll take it again. It doesn't make any difference to me. Whatever they come up with it really doesn't matter.

"I feel like we beat them and beat them good. I feel like we've very capable of doing it again. When it comes time to play we're going to have that in our heads, but at the same time we know we have to go out and play football."

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