Quentin Taylor

Like most frehsmen, Rebel Linebacker Quentin Taylor had some difficulties adjusting the demands of college football, but as he enters his sophomore season next month, Taylor, who came out of spring as the number one Will Linebacker, is finding the rigos are "easier." Read about it inside.

Sophomore Will Linebacker Quentin Taylor doesn't mind saying it.

There's no macho bravado when he talks about his freshman year in 2005.

In his words, it was difficult, moreso than he expected when he packed his bags in Apopka, FL, and landed in Oxford to start his college football career over a year ago.

"My first summer last year was very difficult. I never had any doubts I'd make it, but it wasn't what I was expecting," said Taylor, who has a shy demanor and is a man of few words. "The every day pace of college football is a tough adjustment."

He likens the experience to the move from junior high to varsity football in the prep ranks, only much more difficult.

"I remember when I was moving from the ninth grade team to the varsity, it was a different level and a different pace - much faster," he added. "It was the same going from high school to college, only a lot harder. There are a lot more demands on your time and the intensity in everything you do is multiplied. It was like starting all over again."

But Quentin kept his feet moving and his mind from spinning too much. Quickly, he made an impact on the squad and got substantial playing time, for a freshman, behind senior starter Kelvin Robinson, who played with an injured shoulder most of the year and had to have a few breaks at times.

Taylor ended the campaign by playing in eight games and registering 13 tackles, including 11 solo stops and two hits for losses. His highlights included five tackles at Tennessee and five against Kentucky.

"I got a lot of practice reps with the first team because Kelvin couldn't practice sometimes," Taylor noted. "Those reps were good for my development."

He caught the coaches' attention even though he said the season was a blur to him at times.

"We had a lot thrown at us. I caught on OK, but I was confused some of the time too," he allows.

By the time spring rolled around, Taylor had a new LB coach - David Saunders, who replaced Shawn Slocum - but the system was the same and he was more comfotable in it.

"I know what to do now. I'm not perfect, but I've come a long way since last year," he added. "All I have to do is keep competing and learning. I have reached a comfort level where I don't get totally lost now, so I'm more confident.

"I'm also used to the speed of the game and the pace of practices and workouts. That makes a big difference. I see some freshmen this year struggling with that a little and I know what they are going through trying to adjust. I tell them that it will all start coming together soon."

Taylor was critiqued by Coach Ed Orgeron last season as someone who has the necessary tools to succeed on the collegiate level.

"He can be a big time player, but he's got a lot to learn," said Coach O. "It will come to him and when it does, you will see a good college linebacker emerge. He's not there yet, but he's making progress."

Quentin believes that too, but he's still striving for more, mentally and physically.

"I weigh 239 pounds right now. I think I'm a little heavy. I'd like to play at 230 and see if that helps my speed some," he said. "Also, I need to keep studying to make sure I have all my assignments down."

He says playing next to All-American Patrick Willis has helped him develop more quickly.

"You can learn a lot from Patrick. He sets an example of how hard to play, how to attack the game," Taylor closed. "He never seems to get tired in practices or in games. He's always happy to be playing football. He keeps us up. It's special playing next to him.

"You know he's probably going to be a first-round draft choice. If you follow his lead, you can't help but improve."

Now that he's completely adjusted to college football, look for that improvement to start showing up quickly.

If it does, the Rebs - with Willis and Garry Pack the other two-thirds of the linebacking corps - could have one of the best linebacker units in the SEC.

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