The Wolverine

November 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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aymon Taylor entered the box score for the first time at U-M in dubious fashion, earning a 15-yard personal foul penalty during a first-quarter drive by Eastern Michigan in a 2011 non-conference game. It's the type of stat teammates could playfully chide him for later, with the outcome decided, but the cornerback, now a sophomore, never heard the chirp- ing, and when he went to the sideline following his mistake, he received a pat on the backside from U-M's coaches. R BY MICHAEL SPATH "Once Revis gets his hands on someone, it's over, and so I preach to myself, 'You have to get your hands on him. You have to jam him,'" Tay- lor said. "It's all timing between the quarterback and the wide receiver, and if you mess up that timing, now the ball is overthrown or the quarter- back has to look you off and go to the other side." Taylor speaks, and is beginning to RAY OF LIGHT Has Answered The Challenge At Cornerback Sophomore Raymon Taylor Taylor had been overly assertive, hitting a man out of bounds (though barely — the call was questionable), but head coach Brady Hoke didn't mind. He and his coaching staff have lauded Taylor for his aggression, en- couraging more of it from the Detroit native. "You don't want a guy that will float back there," secondary coach Curt Mallory said. "You don't want a cornerback that is afraid, and cer- tainly he isn't. That's what you like about him. You can coach all the tech- nique and fundamentals but the ag- gression he has is going to make him a good player, and that's why we're all excited about him." Taylor learned his hostile, in-your- face approach at Highland Park High School, with scouting reports warn- ing receivers and running backs that the defensive back would not shy from contact. Watching New York Jets All-Pro viding the type of effort the coaches expected to receive out of the starter opposite fifth-year senior J.T. Floyd. But that starter was expected to be Blake Countess. Taylor battled in spring practice and fall camp, but Floyd and Count- ess locked up starting jobs in early August and promised to be the Wolverines' top cornerback tandem since Leon Hall and Morgan Trent in 2006. The nickel-back responsibility belonged to junior Courtney Avery, so the 5-10, 182-pound Taylor was poised to take root on the sideline, filling in for Floyd or Countess from time to time. SURPRISE, SURPRISE Darrelle Revis, Taylor became even more convinced the most effective style for his post was playing physi- cal, and he had the strength and mentality to defend that way. Taylor has made a big impact for Michigan this season, recording two interceptions, a pass breakup, a fumble recovery and 29 tack- les through eight games. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL That game plan changed just 12 plays into the 2012 season, when Countess tore his ACL while cover- ing a punt, capsizing his entire soph- omore campaign. In his absence, the coaches turned to Avery and Taylor, splitting reps, but Avery struggled at the boundary corner post, creating the opportunity for the second-year Wolverine. "I feel like I was mentally ready. I was just surprised because you don't expect a teammate to go down like that. All of a sudden you're in the game, and it's like, 'Whoa, it's Ala- bama, the defending national cham- NOVEMBER 2012 THE WOLVERINE 37 play, with the confidence of a vet- eran defensive back, recording two interceptions, a pass breakup, a fum- ble recovery and 29 tackles in eight games, including six starts. He is pro-

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