Taylor a Nightmare Matchup at New Position
Rendrick Taylor
CUTigers.com
Posted Mar 31, 2006


CLEMSON – If the Clemson football team is going to make a run toward an ACC Championship, the person playing the ‘J’ position could be the x-factor.

Though he only played sparingly last year and only a rising sophomore, Rendrick Taylor may very well be the difference between the Tigers going to the BCS or the MPC Computers Bowl.

To take advantage of Taylor’s size, speed and athleticism, offensive coordinator Rob Spence created the ‘J’ position, which enables Taylor to be put in several different locations.

Sometimes he’s lined up as a fullback, while other times he’s lined up at tight end. He’ll see time at wide receiver in the slot and in an H-back position. Though the cat’s out of the bag, Taylor is being labeled as a secret weapon.

“I’ve haven’t coached anybody like that physically at that position since I’ve been coaching,” Spence said. “Rendrick is a really talented wide receiver who also has the ability to do some of these other things. He’s truly is a unique specimen. …

“When you have somebody that has the size and dimensions and stature and athletic ability of a Rendrick Taylor, you really need to stretch yourself as a coach to figure out ways to put him into position to make plays. Usually, necessity is the mother of invention and that would be the case here.”

At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Taylor isn’t your ordinary wide receiver. He is a beast that runs like a deer, which has wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney drooling at what the future holds.

Because of his size and speed, there are very few defensive folks in the country that can effectively guard him. And in the last month of the 2005 season, Taylor started to display those talents, which is when Spence started devising a new position for him.

“That’s the thing, he can beat corners, he can beat safties and he can beat linebackers,” Swinney said. “He’s such a freak athlete that it’s exciting. I’m telling you, he’s a nightmare to match up with, because he is quick and he is explosive and he can run and he can catch the ball and he’s got ball skills and he’s got instinct and he’s smart. …

“He’s got to go do it first. He’s got to prove himself. But as things go, I would think that the defensive coordinator has got to go, ‘Where’s that big body at and where is he lining up?’ I think he can be something special, I really do if he continues on the track he’s on.”

Taylor is so unusual that when he lines up a fullback, don’t be surprised if he gets a few carries. He played a bit at tailback in high school, so he’s somewhat used to the position. On the first play in the team’s first spring scrimmage, Taylor ran for 18 yards on a reverse.

Getting handoffs could become a normal aspect of Taylor’s game.

“I'm all over the place,” Taylor said. “I’m just out there, having fun, playing. They’re all in the gameplan. When I’m at ‘X’, I know what I’ve got to do, when I’m in there at ‘Z’, I know the plays, and when I’m at J-back, I know, too. There’s a lot to learn, but it’s just like schoolwork. You’ve got to go out there and execute.”
“You never know,” Spence said with a sly grin. “Anything can happen, and it usually does. Sometimes those experiments work and sometimes they blow up.”

But it’s not just the ‘J’ (which stands for Joker) that Taylor has to worry about. He also has to play the ‘X’ and ‘Z’ positions at receiver. He literally is everywhere but under center.

“I'm all over the place,” Taylor said. “I’m just out there, having fun, playing. They’re all in the gameplan. When I’m at ‘X’, I know what I’ve got to do, when I’m in there at ‘Z’, I know the plays, and when I’m at J-back, I know, too. There’s a lot to learn, but it’s just like schoolwork. You’ve got to go out there and execute.”

One place Taylor isn’t playing is on defense, though head coach Tommy Bowden thought about it seriously this off-season.

However, Swinney nearly went into shock when he was informed earlier this week that Bowden came somewhat close to moving Taylor to the other side of the ball.

“It never came close for me!” Swinney said. “It was never seriously discussed on my end. I wasn’t privy to those conversations, I can assure you. I know that’s a thing that people like to talk about, but the coaching staff has seen that he can be special (on offense).

“There’s not many linebackers that can go play wideout. That just tells you what kind of athlete this guy is. Yeah, he could go and be a great linebacker. He could be a great tailback. He could be a great safety. That’s why we recruited him, because he’s that kind of player.”

Swinney honestly believes Taylor has the potential to be one of the more memorable players in school and ACC history.

“He could be like a David Boston or an Anquan Boldin,” Swinney said. “He can be the first Rendrick Taylor. That’s why I don’t understand (wanting to move him to defense). There’s nothing wrong with a 226-pound wideout that can run 4.5 and jump 40 inches and throws his body around. I don’t know when that became a crime. He’s really fun to have. It’s kind of unique.

“There’s not many guys like that and you feel like you’ve got something special on your hands and let’s just see where we can go with it. But people look at him physically and say he’s a middle linebacker. But that’s not why we recruited him here.”

Now, there’s no danger of Taylor ever moving to defense. From now until his playing days are over at Clemson, he will be causing havoc to defensive coordinators everywhere.

“He definitely is the unique guy,” Swinney said. “He’s the striped zebra. We’ve got a bunch of horses and he’s got stripes on him. He just stands out. He can run like the rest of them, but he just doesn’t look like them, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

But as excited as Spence and Swinney currently are with Taylor, there’s one thing that gets them absolutely giddy.

“He’ll be better at this time next year,” Swinney said. “That’s the beauty of it. He’s just a puppy.”

Must be a Great Dane.


Related Stories
O&W Game: Rendrick Taylor Postgame Comments
 -by CUTigers.com  Apr 8, 2006
Practice Videos: WR Rendrick Taylor
 -by CUTigers.com  Aug 11, 2005
Complete Wide Receivers Breakdown
 -by CUTigers.com  Aug 10, 2005


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