August 6, 2013

No regrets for Taylor

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John Taylor talks about his role for 2013 from UGASports on Vimeo.

Redshirt freshman John Taylor has heard the chatter from people wondering why he didn't play as a true freshman for Georgia last fall.

Following an ankle injury to Abry Jones, depth was not exactly a strong point for the Bulldogs, and it showed in the second half of their loss to Alabama in the SEC title game.

Many questioned why Taylor wasn't thrown into the fray, citing the Bulldogs could have used his size and strength up front.

Looking back, however, Taylor said not playing was the right call.

"Looking back, redshirting was a good thing for me," Taylor said after practice Tuesday morning. "I got bigger, faster and stronger, plus it gave me more time to learn the playbook."

With a year now under his belt, the 334-pounder said he's ready to make the kind of impact fans were hoping he would last fall.

"I feel like I'm doing pretty good but I've got to go out and do better every day," he said. "I've still got to improve, I've got to work on my pad level and study the playbook. I'm catching onto the playbook."

Senior Garrison Smith can empathize with that.

"He's (Taylor) still learning, much like me when I was a freshman," Smith said. "He's got a lot of talent, but he's still learning the fundamentals. He's still got to get out of some old habits, but the more he plays, he's going to get better and better. Before his career is done, he's probably going to be one of the best defensive lineman to play here."

But right now, Taylor is one of a number of newcomers at the position trying to impress defensive line coach Chris Wilson.

So far, he's proving his versatility.

Currently listed as the backup to Smith at left end, Taylor said he's also getting looks at nose in Georgia's base package.

"Once you catch onto it, it's pretty much easy," Taylor said of playing both spots. "But I'm still learning."

So far, Wilson has been impressed.

"He's got that ability," Wilson said.

However, he's not the only one.

"We've got multiple guys. We're very multiple and that's the good thing about it," Wilson said. "I walked into a good situation here. We've got some talented guys. When you play defense in this league, it's really hard to key on guys when they can play either spot. We're fortunate to have that."

Taylor said it's also a competitive group.

"When you're out there, you've got to go out, get your reps and compete," Taylor said. "You've got to play your technique."

Taylor said Wilson makes sure the defensive line takes its collective job seriously, especially when the full pads go on like they did for the first time Monday morning.

"That's when we (the defensive line) know it's time to step up," Taylor said. "He's always telling us, defend the line of scrimmage. Don't let anybody cross."

Considering that's his mantra, Taylor suggested Wilson wasn't exactly pleased with what he saw during Monday's 3-on-3 when the offensive line made it possible for running back J.J. Green to roll over the top and break away for a touchdown.

The play was caught on ESPN and later circulated throughout the social media.

"NO, I was not in there," said Taylor, laughing. "That would have been embarrassing."

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