Actions speak louder than words

When Lucas Taylor was a sophomore quarterback in high school, he didn't call plays.

That chore went to a receiver or a running back.


Taylor had a speech impediment. It's hard to call plays when you stutter.

But Taylor, who played at Carencro (La.) High School, has worked hard on his speech. Still, he's done most of his talking on the field.

Lucas Taylor entered 2007 with 14 catches for 101 yards in two seasons at Tennessee. As a junior, Taylor had 73 catches for 1,000 yards, despite battling with a painful turf toe for several weeks of the season.

It was remarkable production for a player that came out of the spring not completely sure he had wrapped up a starting berth.

Most everyone – coaches included – was eager to see what a bumper crop of receiver recruits would do in their first season at Tennessee.

The freshmen didn't get much of a chance, thanks to Taylor, Austin Rogers and Josh Briscoe.

But it was Taylor who stole the show, racking up four 100-yard games in the first six weeks to rank first in the SEC in receiving yards per game and on pace to break the single-season record. He had just one more 100-yard game as he battled turf toe.

``He's a special kid,'' said receivers coach Trooper Taylor. ``He's a warrior. He's a kid that's not going to say much, but when he steps between those lines, he plays bigger than what he really is (6-foot, 185).

``He's a guy you can have confidence in. You can trust him to be where he's supposed to be. I can't find a play where I could grade him down for loafing, and that's probably the biggest compliment to him I could make.''

Trooper Taylor wasn't sure about Lucas Taylor coming out of spring. The coach was concerned about the player's ability to make plays. But Trooper said he's been surprised by an over-the-shoulder catch here, a one-handed grab there.

``Some of those things were shocking to me,'' Trooper said.

Lucas Taylor was shocking as a high school athlete. He once rushed for more than 500 yards in a game – and his team lost.

Despite his skills, Taylor shies away from the limelight, in part because he's not comfortable speaking – much less speaking to the media.

``He doesn't want to embarrass himself or he doesn't want to sound like he's not intelligent because he has a stuttering problem,'' Trooper said. ``Like I told him, `I don't love family in slices. They take you just like you are. You keep catching touchdowns and making plays, and they (receivers) will all be stuttering. So don't worry about it.'''

Lucas Taylor worried about it in high school. His coaches had someone else call plays early in his career. When he got to Tennessee, he rarely said a word.

``It's something he's had to deal with,'' Trooper said. ``I told him he had to do interviews and talk. It's part of the job.

``We chip away at it. It's a daily deal. Coach (Phillip) Fulmer has had a person work with him on his speech. That's been really good for the kid.''

There are times when even Trooper isn't sure what Lucas Taylor is saying.

``I get (receivers) Casey Woods and Austin Rogers to translate for us,'' Trooper said. ``They're probably the only two guys he says anything to. It's funny because when he does say something, it's almost like the President is speaking because everybody stops and says, `Wait, wait, wait, Lucas is talking.'''

Trooper said the stuttering shouldn't be taken as a sign Lucas isn't smart.

``He's very smart on the sideline,'' Trooper said. ``He can come off (the field) and tell you what's happening. … He's that kind of player.''

When Taylor had the toe injury, he caught just 15 passes over a four-game stretch.

Trooper said that had an impact on Ainge's production.

``I guarantee you,'' Trooper said. ``It's like taking your right hand man out. There's a comfort zone. It's like a pitcher and a catcher.''

And this season, the catcher did more than anyone anticipated – with his worksheet not his words.

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