"It's called attitude," he said, grinning broadly. "They've got an attitude right now, and I'm glad they've got it because they're right. We pride ourselves on being Wide Receiver U, and we're going to put it back on the map. That's what we talk about doing and that's one of their goals."
Unfortunately for the Vols, no one has referred to Tennessee as Wide Receiver U in a long time. Many fans thought the signing of Prep All-Americans Swain, Robert Meachem and Bret Smith four years ago might restore UT's wideout tradition but that has not happened to date. Swain, Meachem and Smith apparently realize they have underachieved and are looking to rectify the situation.
"They know the kid from South Carolina (Sidney Rice) was preseason all-conference, along with the kid from Vanderbilt (Earl Bennett)," Taylor said. "That bothered ‘em because they came here to be that kind of guy – to be in the magazines, to get their name out there and then go pro. That's what we're striving to do."
I pointed out that Rice and Bennett piled up big numbers as freshmen last fall because they were clearly the go-to guys on their respective teams. Tennessee, conversely, tends to spread the catches among three or four receivers. I thought that might make it tougher for a Vol wideout to earn accolades but Trooper says that isn't the case.
"I came from a place (Tulane) where we had three guys make all-conference, had two guys with 1,000 yards on the same team in one year," he said. "It can be done. The great thing about our offense is that it gives you a chance. I'm excited about Coach Cutcliffe and the offense we've got in. He set records at Ole Miss, and he set all the records here. I'm hoping to try to break some of those."
Taylor said his troops are having an excellent preseason, although they took a step backwards Wednesday afternoon.
"They had a bad day today – not as far as drops but as far as tempo," he said. "Those guys have to realize there's no room for error. We don't have time to just get through a practice; we've got to get better at something every day.
"We threw a new wrinkle at ‘em today and they struggled with it. I was disappointed that, with the experience we have, they didn't pick it up like I wanted ‘em to."