My name is Beauford Bixel, and I'm a Michigan Football addict. Whew, I'm glad that's out of the way. In all seriousness, I am one of the editors (a pompous title for somebody who runs a blog, to be sure) of Maize n Brew, which is SBN's Michigan blog. Having grown up in Fort Wayne, and lived in Indianapolis (29th and Talbot; rough spot) I am also an enormous Colts fan. Sure, it's not as fervent as my Michigan fandom, but still, for the NFL you guys are all right. It brings a great pleasure to my loins that the Colts have seen fit to use their compensatory pick on my brethren in blue for the past two seasons. While he was never going to be an all-star, I thought Mike Hart offered the Colts some upside last year, and was disappointed to see his injury. My hope is that he'll catch on somewhere, but players like Hart who get hurt like that often slip into the ether.
This year, Terrance Taylor was selected which everybody knows. I thought I might be able to provide some insight on Taylor from somebody who watched every miserable minute of Michigan's miserable season last year, for which I have received a blackbelt in Tae-Kwon-Michigan-Oki-do. Seriously, it's in my closet.
What Taylor Brings
As you've seen and heard from mini-camp, Taylor is a big boy who keeps his pad level low. From a technique standpoint, he's probably a bit raw, but the "bones" are there to build on. You may have heard that he was among the top finishers at the combine for strength. This is an accomplishment that rests squarely on the new S&C staff at Michigan (I'm sure you've heard the name "Barwis" and how he makes you puke rainbows and awesomeness, etc.), as well as Terrance's commitment to the new program. You see, when Carr retired so too did the HIT S&C philosophy. To give you an idea of how outdated that program is in NCAA football, the only other major program running it at time was JoePa and Penn State. The new guy, Barwis, made you like, run and stuff. He also made you clean, squat, snatch, etc. Believe it or not, this was all new for Michigan, who had been using single muscle isolation machines primarily. This didn't set too well with some players, including a perpetually jolly, but also perpetually out of shape Taylor. He almost "quit" the team; a forced resignation. Instead, he said screw it, and became one of the most vocal leaders and supporters of the new "regime." A quote:
"I sat down and I talked to Mike (Barwis). I was on the bike, and he told me, 'Look at you. You're the only person who is not able to finish a workout. You don't want to be that guy.' I thought about it all that night. I told myself I didn't want to be that guy. I started eating right. I started getting my sleep. I started drinking a lot of water...It was all mental, to be honest with you. We've been doing it all summer – breaking our bodies down to see what we could do in the end. He broke me down mentally. Then he built me back up. Now I'm mentally tough like I've never been before in my life."
I've always believed, correctly BTW, that football players are more than just Madden pixels running around out on the field. They're people, and the makeup of each football player is different. You get guys who are just so damn naturally gifted that they can slide by doing minimum work. You get guys who are natually gifted and put in more work than anyone else - Manning comes to mind. Then you get guys who maybe aren't the most naturally gifted athletes, but are so mentally and physically tough that you'd dare not say it to their face. That's Terrance Taylor. He's a joker in the loker room, but with his new attitude he'll do whatever it takes. The Colts live on players like that. I'll leave you with an anecdote from another Michigan blog called "RBUAS" of whose Taylor was a favorite player. It came after a 19 point comeback victory over Wisconsin, truly the only bright spot of the season last year:
In the second quarter Morgan Trent fumbled a kickoff on Michigan’s 27 yard line, after the defense had just been on the field for almost eight minutes the previous drive. I saw Terrance walk onto the field in front of everyone else immediately after, swinging his arms and probably shouting something so recklessly that the spit flew from his mouth and hung down his facemask. As if to say "Is this really the best you’ve got?" He was obviously frustrated with the offense’s incompetence, as we’d find out after the game, but he craved any chance to keep playing. He was undaunted, undeterred; the voice on a cold night telling you everything was going to be alright, even if deep inside the voice didn't believe so itself. You tell me sports are insignificant, and I’ll tell you how I watched them turn a boy into a man before my own eyes.
I don't think that Taylor is going to be the next Warren Sapp. But at least you're getting a guy who tries at Defensive Tackle, which is more than can be said for the plethora of others who have occupied that position under the horseshoe.