on April 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Clemson’s Taylor could create a whole new position

CLEMSON — When Rendrick Taylor moved from wide receiver to middle linebacker at the start of the spring, he did it for himself more than anything else.

At 6-foot-2, 240-pounds, the rising senior has always been compared physically to those run-stopping bruiser types at linebacker. Hearing what everyone else was saying, he felt that it only made sense to give it shot, especially since Clemson’s one and two guys – Cortney Vincent and Antonio Clay – in the middle are not currently with the team.

“I went over there just so I wouldn’t have to say ‘what if’ when my career was over,” Taylor said Monday.

The former Marlboro County High School standout discovered there was a reason why he liked offense once he started playing defense. Playing middle linebacker wasn’t working out for Taylor. In fact, it wasn’t working at all.

“It wasn’t the same,” he said. “I felt pretty good over there, but it wasn’t the same. I wasn’t going 100 percent over there.”

That’s when fate stepped in. Clemson running back James Davis injured his shoulder during a mini-scrimmage to conclude the first week of spring drills. When it was decided the First-Team ACC running back needed to be held out of spring drills in order to get healthy, Taylor jumped at the opportunity to get back on offense.

“With James being out and C.J. (Spiller) being the only scholarship running back we had back there, I felt like it would be good for the team,” Taylor said.

And boy has it been good for the team.

Taylor has been a one-man wrecking crew in the five practices since his second position move of the spring. On Monday, he had little troubles while running over defensive backs, including Byron Maxwell.

“Now that I’m back on offense, I’m going at it 100 percent,” Taylor said. “I feel real good having the ball in my hands. I’m having fun. I’m learning the plays and picking up on all the keys right now.”

Clemson coach Tommy Bowden sees Taylor’s enthusiasm for the game again every time he carries the football.

“Rendrick Taylor is running a little bit better everyday,” he said. “He ran good Saturday and he ran a little bit better today. That has been a pleasant surprise so far.”

Bowden hopes Taylor, who caught 25 passes for 259 yards last year, continues to enjoy the running back position because he truly feels it gives his rising senior the best chance to succeed at the next level.

“I think at the next level for him will be inside as opposed to outside so that is a whole different thing as a blocker, runner, and picking up pass protection. That is what I think is his future so I think that will help him,” Bowden said.

Taylor’s future at running back at Clemson is doubtful to make it past the spring, however. When Davis returns, it is doubtful Taylor would get much work at tailback, plus Clemson has two all-star recruits – Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper – coming in this fall as well.

Taylor will perhaps be reevaluated before then. If he is moved, then there is a chance the Tigers could create an H-back position similar to what Denver and Baltimore ran with NFL great Shannon Sharpe.

Bowden said Taylor could be more of a super back or like a tight end that motions either as a running back or blocker.

Taylor doesn’t care what he is as long as he is on the field and is getting the football in his hands.

“It can lead to something similar to an H-back,” he said. “The coaches have told me that going back to receiver isn’t over. I feel like going into the fall when the rest of the guys are here and James is healthy and back in the mix, I feel like I could be playing receiver, and also maybe during short yardage goal line, I can come in to be that big back and punch it in.”