Bowl Bounce Back? Taylor Certainly Hopes So

Auburn's Courtney Taylor is featured in this report.

Auburn, Ala.--Coming into the 2005 season junior wide receiver Courtney Taylor was considered one of the top players at his position in the Southeastern Conference after a 2004 campaign that saw him catch 43 passes for 737 yards and six touchdowns. Everybody's pick before the season as a player to watch, Taylor instead became a disappearing act at times for the Tigers as injuries kept him from being full speed most of the season.

Showing his competitive nature despite being in obvious pain from a high ankle sprain suffered early in the season, Taylor missed just one game because of the injury. Still, it kept him from being full speed and that brought down his receiving totals by a significant amount.

Catching just 20 passes for 264 yards and no touchdowns, Taylor says that it has been a very tough year for him and because of his outgoing personality everyone has reminded him over and over that he has been shut out of the touchdown race in 2005.

"I hear it from my parents, my teammates, everybody," Taylor says. "It's no big deal. I think I'm a pretty tough guy when it comes to something like that. It doesn't bother me. It's been real tough for me this year, but hopefully I'll score in the bowl game or something.

"In my opinion you can't let stuff like that get you down," he adds. "You're going to go through things in your life. Right now it's just tough for me. It's hard to swallow, but at the same time I don't have that much pride not to swallow. I watch guys like Reggie Bush and think ‘this guy is a phenom.' That just motivates me to work harder, get better and maybe I can do some of the stuff he does."

Taylor catches a big pass against Alabama in last month's Iron Bowl.

The time to do that is now for Taylor as the Tigers head to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando to face a Wisconsin team that struggles on defense. No matter what happens in that game though, it's highly unlikely that would affect an upcoming decision he has to make.

Just like many seniors, Taylor has submitted his name to the NFL for an evaluation. It is the same process Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, Carlos Rogers, Marcus McNeill and others have gone through before making the decision to stay at Auburn. Taylor says in the end things will turn out the same for him as the rest of the group because of what the program means to him.

"I put my name in about two weeks ago," Taylor says. "Coach Tub (Tommy Tuberville) did it for me. I just basically wanted to see where I stand. It (hearing back from them) should be anytime. I gave them my number and address. I'm just waiting to hear from them basically."

What he hears will ultimately make the decision for Taylor, although basically the decision is already made. He says there's only one way he comes out to enter the NFL Draft. "Yeah, if I'm the number one overall pick," Taylor says. "If I don't get that I'm coming back.

"When you see those guys and the job Coach Tub does for them, with them coming back and the leadership roles they played on this year's team, I want to play that role," Taylor adds. "I want to be a senior. I want to be able to be a guy that leads guys on and off the field."

There won't be any problem doing that. Not for a player who has leadership in his blood and exudes it from every pore. If there were ever any doubt about his leadership and ability to play for the team it went out the window earlier this season against Georgia. Hustling to dive on Devin Aromashodu's fumble and save the day for the Tigers, Taylor says that it was just his time. More than that though it was about Taylor's ultimate desire to win football games, something he shows every time he walks between the lines.

"I really don't care how I get on the field," Taylor says. "That was my motive when I first came to Auburn. I don't care if I never played a down. I didn't care if I was that guy or if anyone knew me. I guaranteed that I was going to hustle and do things to help the team.

"That's one thing I said before I came here and one thing I told Coach when I first came in here. I'm just a guy that wants to do things to help the team out. That's how I am and how I have always been."

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