Sean Taylor Ready To Step In

Ever since they walked on the field, University of Miami coach Larry Coker has showered praise all over the Hurricanes freshmen class. Coker hasn't hidden the possibilty that several of those players could make an impact on the team-as early as Sept. 1 when the Hurricanes open the season at Penn State.

Sean Taylor is high on that list of newcomers that has caught Coker's attention.

"Boy, I'll tell you we have a lot of athletically gifted players on this football team, but Sean Taylor is just one of those guys you look at for about 15 minutes and come away saying Wow! what a talent. He really is special."

Taylor is special enough that he could find himself with significant playing time in the Hurricanes defensive backfield. The 6-3, 220-pounder has been down playing what might happen in the future since arriving at UM in early August, instead wanting to focus on his development as a football and knowledge of the playbook.

Taylor talks much more of the assistance teammmates like Phillip Buchanon and James Lewis have provided him on the field than what he may be able to accomplish himself.

But don't be fooled.

The Hurricanes are hopeful that Taylor could lend a hand in the secondary along side Ed Reed, Mike Rumph, Buchanon and Lewis. Taylor and Antrell Rolle could find themselves right in the middle of the defensive huddle before long. Although he is cautious, Taylor leaves little doubt.

He wants to play.

"I'm a competitor so I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to play," said Taylor, who attended Miami Gulliver Prep."What the coaches want me to do for this team is what I'll do. I've always that it's the team before me. I not going to change my thinking."

The Hurricanes have been impressed with Taylor's performnce as a safety after working him at that position early in fall practice. Taylor, who played on both sides of the ball in high school, is prepared to help were ever he is needed.

"I have a lot to learn, but I'm working as hard as I can. You never know when the coaches are going to call on you," Taylor said. "It's totally different from high school. It's like starting from the ground up."

Whatever role Taylor might fill for the Hurricanes, it probably won't catch him by surprise. Thanks to Steve Howey. Howey, Taylor's high school coach, by no means wasted any of Taylor's superb skills. Taylor played running back, defensive back and linebacker while at Gulliver. And he was a star on both sides of the ball.

Along with Buck Ortega, a UM freshman quarterback and Taylor's teammate at Gulliver, Taylor led the team to the Class 2A state championship during his senior season. Taylor capped an outstanding high school career by scoring three touchdowns in the title game against Marianna.

Taylor rushed for 1,300 yards and a state-record 44 touchdowns in 2000, including several 200 yard rushing games during Gulliver;s playoff run. For good measure-Taylor recorded 100 tackles on defense.

"Sean is a special athlete," said Howey. "A lot of people say that he won't be successful because he played at a small school, but Sean Taylor is just a great player. He can do anything."

The combination of size and speed that Taylor brings to the table is what has Coker thinking big with the freshman. The Hurricanes feel Taylor can be a physical player in the mold of Darren Woodson. Not that Taylor is Woodson at this stage.

"He has the physical tools. If he can learn quickly who knows what's going to happen," said defensive backs coach Mark Stoops.

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