Freshman Receiver Looking For Early Playing Time

Incoming freshman Courtney Taylor talks about his adjustment to college life and what his new teammates are doing this summer to get ready for the football season.

Auburn, Ala.--Making the transition from high school to college is never easy for a freshman.

Now take that normal freshman, consider that he comes from a small high school from a small town and add in the fact that he's playing football. Now you get a feel for the transition that is taking place for Auburn incoming freshman Courtney Taylor.

Taylor is from tiny Carrollton, just a short drive from Alabama's campus in Tuscaloosa. He is already on the Auburn campus this summer and working hard towards two-a-days which begin August 4.

That means an introduction into the training regimen of the man known as Coach Yox. Since taking over Auburn's strength and conditioning program in January of 1999, Kevin Yoxall has pushed the Tiger players beyond their expectations and it has paid off to the tune of 16 wins and two bowl appearances the last two seasons.

Those expectations have been increased this summer among a group of players looking to redeem themselves for a poor finish to the 2001 season. Although he sensed the hunger of the team and coaching staff during the recruiting process, Taylor says he didn't expect the attitude and drive he's seen so far since arriving in Auburn.

"Oh no," he says as he laughs. "I had no idea. I was in for a rude awakening, but I have been quick to adjust to it so it hasn't been a big problem.

"So far it has been intense," Taylor notes. "Once you come up in there he (Yoxall) will tell you, ‘Be ready to work hard the whole time.' Basically, that puts all the freshmen in the mind frame that when we come up in there we have to be ready and we have to do it regardless of how we feel."

Taylor is shown catching a pass during a summer throwing session with the quarterbacks and other receivers.

The transition has been made tougher for Taylor because of a position change coming his way as well. A lifelong quarterback at Carrollton because he was always the best athlete on his team, the 6-3, 185 Taylor now is busy learning the techniques and skills necessary to be a wide receiver in the SEC. That has meant a lot of hard work in addition to his time in the weight room.

"It's a little transition because you have to learn all the small techniques of being a receiver," he notes. "But basically all the guys out there, even the freshman guys, are giving me tips. I can see myself progressing everyday and they can see it, too. That helps me out a lot because I've got people around me that love the game and they love to help their fellow teammates."

One of the ways Taylor and the other freshmen try to get ahead of the game before fall practice begins is to take part in throwing sessions twice a week with the upperclassmen on the practice fields. While no coaches can be present or take part in the activities, it gives the experienced players a chance to coach the younger guys on the finer points of the game while working on timing for the fall. Taylor says this part of the summer has been especially important for him.

"The afternoon sessions help you better because it gets you prepared for the heat and it also gets us ready for the two-a-days that I have been hearing about. I think mentally and physically it helps a good bit."

Because of the work and effort the team has put forth already this summer, it's not surprising that a certain chemistry has already developed among the veterans and newcomers. Taylor says that he thinks this season has a chance to be a special one because of how well the team meshes together.

"You can tell it with the atmosphere," he says. "I think there is a lot of chemistry there. Even before us there was a lot of chemistry there. You can tell through the older guys and they way they act, their system and the way they do things."

Taylor and the other freshmen receivers will have a great opportunity to see playing time this fall with head coach Tommy Tuberville saying that he expects several newcomers will break into the two-deep playing rotation.

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