On the Rebound: AU's Taylor Making Progress

A report is featured on Auburn senior wide receiver Courtney Taylor.

Auburn, Ala.--After suffering a scare in preseason when he went down with a knee injury, senior wide receiver Courtney Taylor is working to bounce back to full speed for Auburn's football opener vs. Washington State.

"I am on the road, I am getting better, I am running around and making cuts," says Taylor, who notes that he is about 80 to 85 percent recovered from a knee sprain.

"I am real excited to get back out there," says Taylor, who was cleared for full speed work at Tuesday's practice. "I am happy that a lot of the young guys are stepping up though. I kind of say it is a blessing in disguise to just to see what guys will do in pressure situations.

"We have Rod Smith, Montez Billings, Robert Dunn--those three that stick out to me now that have stepped up huge for us."

Smith and Dunn are sophomores who have seen limited game action. Billings is a redshirt freshman who is expected to make his AU debut against Washington State. "Montez is an athlete," Taylor says. "He is getting his opportunities and showing the coaches what he can do."

Taylor also notes that he is excited to see what Mario Fannin, the newest member of the receiver corps, can do after making the move from tailback at Tuesday's practice. "He is one of the best athletes I have seen since I have been here," Taylor says.

Taylor is expected to be one of the top receivers in the SEC this year. He goes into the season with 20 career starts and 1,380 receiving yards with seven touchdown grabs. Six of those scores came as a sophomore when he was healthy all season and caught 43 passes for 737 yards. Last fall, playing with a painful high ankle sprain, his numbers dropped to 22 catches for 278 yards and one score.

Courtney Taylor is Auburn's most experienced and most productive wide receiver.

Taylor says he will "most definitely" be at 100 percent for the opener, but then adds, "if not I will play like it."

The fifth-year senior says that Auburn's top passers, junior Brandon Cox and sophomore Blake Field, will go into the 2006 season as better quarterbacks than they were last year. "Both of them are doing great," he says.

"I feel like Brandon is going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, if not the best. He has got targets. There is a lot of talent at wide receiver here. Just his progress from last year is huge. He has matured and grown up. The same for Blake Field. We are really confident if something happens to Brandon, God forbid, that Blake can come in and get the job done."

Taylor and the Tigers will open their season at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, Sept.2 in Auburn's first ever football game vs. Washington State. The contest will be televised by ESPN2 from Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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