Taylor: "Had to Work Double-Time"

Sophomore wide receiver <b>Junior Taylor</b> took a long road to get to UCLA, but it was rewarded with a good freshman season last year. He talks about it, his role on this year's team, and living up to the legacy of his number...

At one time, it looked like Junior Taylor would never come to UCLA. But after getting his academics in order, Taylor worked himself into the rotation a year ago, scored the first UCLA touchdown of 2002, and now, with Tab Perry's absence, is poised to play a key role in the Bruins offense for 2003. He talks about the setback in getting to UCLA, scoring on his first possession last year, and the legacy of his number.

BRO: It's a total different circumstance for you from last year. Is there more pressure on you, since it's obvious you're going to get so much more playing time?

Taylor: "It's been a little more pressure, because I have more guys gunning at me at the position. I have to know my stuff because younger guys are trying to get to where I am at."

BRO: You didn't make it to UCLA right away, and had to work to get here. You could have just folded and gone somewhere else, but you stayed at it to get here. Why'd you keep working to go to UCLA?

Taylor: "I have always been real happy with my work ethic. I made a mistake, and I had to pay the price for it. I had to work double-time to get to school. It didn't come easy."

BRO: Coach (Jon) Embree is a completely different coach than Coach (Ron) Caragher was. How has it been working with him and Coach Dorrell, who also is a former receiver?

Taylor: "I love Coach Embree. He is an awesome guy. He coaches you well, helps you out, lets you know what you are doing wrong and right. He is critical, but not too critical, saying ‘You did it this way this time, but next time, just do it right,' and real encouraging. He always give you confidence, a positive comment. Coach Dorrell being a former receiver, he is critical because he knows what to do right. But it's great with him being a receiver."

BRO: Does he ever tell you not to mess up his number (eight)?

Taylor: "Yeah, he said at the beginning of camp, when I had my hamstring problem, and he said "You can't be getting soft, because I knew someone who wore that number here and you have a high standard to live up to."

BRO: Last year you were the third receiver behind Tab (Perry) and Craig (Bragg), and only got to show glimpses of what you could do. Now that Tab is out, and Craig is known, it leaves you open for more passes.

Taylor: "It was kind of like that for the Washington State game and Las Vegas Bowl last year, that I could show what I could do. There is a lot more of me that I can show."

BRO: As you're running towards the end zone against Colorado State, a year after you didn't know if you would ever play again, what was going through your mind as you're running there?

Taylor: "It was just a dream come true. Three days earlier Tracy (Pierson, from Bruin Report Online) was interviewing me and asked me ‘What would it be like if you scored in the first game?' And I was like, ‘It would be a dream come true, because I would have all my family in town and there at the game.' And then it happened, and I got to the five and I didn't know what to do. I was looking around, I was confused, asking myself if it really just happened, but it was a great thing for my whole family and friends."

BRO: Last season, the coaches early on used you quite often for trick plays, but then they finally they used you in a conventional receiver role. Was it frustrating at first?

Taylor: "It was a little, but they wanted to get me adjusted on the field. They might have taken it slower than I wished they would have, but I was out there. But towards the end of the year, they let me do what I knew I could do."

BRO: Colorado is here, and you know you get a chance to be out there early. Have you been thinking about it all summer?

Taylor: "Yeah, I'm just looking forward to it. You know, a new system, a new era, and we are just trying to bring a whole new attitude to this season, and to UCLA football."


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