With the days of freshman ineligibility long since passed, it has become increasingly common to see youngsters fresh out of high school suiting up and performing well on college football Saturdays. Generally speaking, though, the ones that actually make an impact in their initial season tend to those that play the skill positions. Rarely do you see players from the trenches prepared to face off against major college linemen from day one. The size and strength differential is, more times than not, too much for newcomers to handle. That said, there are sometimes exceptions to that rule, and at Saturday's Michigan High School All-Star Game, incoming freshman Terrance Taylor looked to be one.
The 1.5 tackles he registered on the stat sheet wasn't at all indicative of the havoc he wreaked all day long. Quite frankly, the young man was unblockable. It was not surprising that he was able to gobble up loose balls in the backfield because he was ALWAYS back there! When Taylor reflected on his performance, it was as if it he were commenting on a normal day at the office. He was much more concerned with using the game as a tool to test skills. "Just getting off the ball and doing my job," said Taylor regarding his objectives for the game. "Creating havoc in the middle so they can't run up the middle. Bouncing the ball out so our linebackers can flow and make tackles. They couldn't run up the middle. I worked on a couple of things that they taught me at Michigan…technique, footwork and hands. I just wanted to see if I still had my fundamentals before I went into 2-a-days."
Any concern Taylor had over whether he had lost anything since he last put pads on was clearly misplaced. He has always possessed outstanding strength and quickness for his size. Capable of pressing over 450 pounds and squatting over 650, it's nothing for the Muskegon native to bull rush over-matched linemen into the backfield. Furthermore, he has always been so quick off of the snap that he is often already into the chest of his man by the time the quarterback takes his first step . However, there were also things that he didn't do well.
Taylor uses his hands to get by his man
The part of Taylor's game that has really progressed since we first started watching him during his freshman season is his overall technique…specifically his hands. Whether it be his wrestling experience, skills he learned from coaches, or a combination of both, Taylor's hand-work Saturday was a thing of beauty. What made him so effective was the versatility of his attack. If the bull rush didn't work, he got rid of his man with a swim, hit & jerk, or some other quick handed move. Other times he just blew through his gap before the lineman could react.
Is Taylor that good, or was he just that much better than the competition he was facing? The answer is probably a little of both. Whatever the case may be, his performance showed that he would at least be capable of holding his own if he were thrown onto the field of play during his freshman season. Even though the young lineman has the desire to see what he can do this year, he also has the ultimate team attitude and will not be sulking if he has to watch from the sidelines. "I don't know," Taylor said regarding whether he will play this year. "That's up to the coaches. I hope they do, but I'm ready for anything. I'm just going have an open mind about everything. If [redshirting] is what they need me to do, then I'll do it. Just anything to help to tradition here."
In the meantime, Taylor will spend his time getting acclimated to life as a
Wolverine. He has already been on campus in Ann Arbor for over a month, working
out and getting to know his new teammates. One, in particular, has already taken
him under his wing. "Gabe Watson has shown me a lot since I've been up
here," Taylor said. "It has been fun. [I've been] lifting weights
and running…getting ready just in case."