Taylor goes full speed in practice

CLEMSON - Clemson's offense got a big shot in the arm Monday when Rendrick Taylor practiced at full speed for the first time since breaking his arm against Wake Forest on Oct. 7.

"He went full speed," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. "He hit is arm on the ground and everything. He looked pretty good."

Taylor ran two plays in particular that showed he was back or close to being back to full strength Monday. First he carried the football on a reverse before being drilled by defensive end Phillip Merling, and then he dove for an overthrown pass which caused to him to use the once broken arm for support.

"All I was thinking about was making the play," Taylor said. "When I hit the ground I jumped up and was like ‘Okay, I feel pretty good. I'm straight now.'

"The toughest thing is going out there and doing it for the first time again. Once you are injured you tend to try and baby or favorite it, but once I hit the ground, all the fear had left and everything felt pretty good."

And that makes Bowden and the rest of the Clemson offense feel a little better.

"He looked pretty good," Bowden said. "I would think if he stays healthy from here until game time (he will be ready to play). He went today full tilt… Ran a reverse and got hit. Got hit and fell on the ground on another pass.

"He went down and put some pressure and body weight on that injury which I'm sure was scary for him, but of course they (doctors) would not let him practice if they did not think his bone structure could take it. That was a good sign."

Before the injury, Taylor was second on the Clemson team in receptions and yards with 12 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown.

"Going out there, knowing I was going full speed and the potential of getting hit on it or hurt, had me real scared and nervous," Taylor said.

"After the first contact and the first time I fell on the ground and fell on it, everything felt okay so I was real excited.

"I felt like I got the fear out of me of getting hit again."

Before the injury, Clemson had a package just for Taylor – called the J-back – which moved him around and forced defenses to scheme and adjust to where he was. When the 6-foot-1, 225-pound sophomore was injured, the coaches were forced to scratch those plans and move on to something else. With 10 days left to prepare for Kentucky in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, Clemson doesn't feel like it has the time to bring back the J-back position in its offense.

"When he was really, really healthy, we ran a nice little package specifically for him, but I doubt we will put that back in," Bowden said. "With him coming back would not be as big a factor since we eliminated that package, but he still gives us a little more depth if we have an injury or two. "He is still a little unpolished being a skill guy and given how long he has been out."

Taylor doesn't care how Clemson uses him in the bowl game, he was just glad to be back on the field.

"I'm getting a lot of confidence," he said. "Everyone is going out there and going full speed. A lot of guys, they weren't scared to hit me. I was just scared to take the hit, but everyone knew I was okay, and right now, I'm excited to be out there making plays again."

Freshmen get a look. Bowden reported he did take part of Monday's practice and used it as a scrimmage for the freshmen that are being redshirted this season. Clemson ran about 20 plays for the freshmen, and worked more with the offensive linemen because they are set to lose so many guys to graduation after the bowl game.

Guitar presentation. Gaylord Hotel Music City Bowl representatives will be in Clemson Tuesday and will attend Clemson's morning practice. At the end of the practice, bowl officials will present Clemson coach Tommy Bowden with the official Music City Bowl Guitar as a gift to Clemson University. The guitar features the logo of the bowl as well as the Clemson and Kentucky logos.

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