Rendrick Taylor, utility man

CLEMSON - After Clemson's first practice in shoulder pads Thursday night, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney again said he was impressed with the performance of Rendrick Taylor.

Maybe it's a coincidence, but Swinney said out of the 27 games Taylor has played, the Tigers have won 20.

"I don't know what that means, but all I know is, for whatever reason, we seem to win a lot more," Swinney said. "I am hoping he's out there for all 14 games this season."

Taylor's role this season will be a diverse one. He'll line up at running back, fullback, tight end and wide receiver.

Which position does he prefer? It doesn't matter.

"I just like having the ball in my hands," he said.

Throw in his ability and willingness to block and you can add company man to Taylor's list of roles in 2009.

"Coach (Danny) Pearman told me the more jobs I do, the more important I am to a company," he said. "I feel like Clemson is my company."

It's been a rocky road for Taylor during his career at Clemson. In 2005, he suffered through a broken wrist most of the season. He played through it and ended the season with nine catches.

In 2006, he broke an arm, finishing the season early with 12 catches, one for a touchdown.

In 2007, he finished fourth on the team in catches with 25, despite missing four games.

Last year, he red-shirted.

This season he's taking a business as usual approach, hoping to stay healthy for the entire year and looking above if anything goes wrong.

"Each practice I come to I say a little prayer and ask God to keep me healthy," Taylor said. "But He has a plan for me. Whatever plan it is I have to go with it."

2009 is the year he's out to prove to himself and everyone else that he's capable of playing a full season. Although he's been getting a lot of praise lately for his work at running back, Taylor just likes to have the ball in his hands.

"(Before the snap) it's going to be really tough on the defense because they'll see me a lot at so many different positions. I'll just mess them up," he said.

Defenses could also be messed up when Taylor has the ball in his hands, according to running backs coach Andre Powell.

"He's big. If you're going to go in there and tackle him, you've got to stick your face on him. You've got some decisions to make, whether you're going to do it or not," he said.

Swinney calls him a "change of pace" guy.

"We know he can run routes and catch. It's been fun watching him pass protect and run the ball," he said.

Whatever role or position it is, Taylor's ready to excel.

"I love it. The more positions I play, the more important I am to the team," he said.

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