Tyrod Taylor arrived at Virginia Tech with huge expectations. He decided to attend Virginia Tech over the University of Florida, and the fact that he was a five-star quarterback from Hampton, Virginia drew comparisons to another great Hokie from that region—Michael Vick.
Frank Beamer had never played a true freshman at quarterback until Taylor stepped on campus. He didn't play in the first game of the 2007 season, but once LSU began dominating the Tech offensive line, Beamer was forced to use a more mobile quarterback.
From that point on, there was a quarterback controversy in Blacksburg. Beamer's two-quarterback system worked for a little while, but the offense seemed to struggle consistently.
It was obvious the coaching staff was more comfortable with the passing ability of Sean Glennon, who was named the 2007 ACC Championship MVP. Taylor threw only 17 passes in the last four games of his freshman year, completing nine of them for only 94 yards and no touchdowns.
Taylor had a costly interception in the Orange Bowl that was returned for a touchdown by Kansas' Aqib Talib. The Hokies went on to lose the game by three points.
Taylor finished the season with 927 yards passing, five touchdowns and three interceptions. He also added 429 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
After his first season, it was obvious that Taylor was a better runner than passer, which the coaching staff looked to change the following spring.
Beamer wanted to red-shirt Taylor for the 2008 season so the coaching staff could work on his throwing motion. However, the red-shirt lasted all of one week. After a stunning opening week loss to East Carolina, Beamer decided to temporarily reinstall the two-quarterback system.
After the Furman game, Beamer benched Glennon and handed the team over to Taylor. Taylor had completed four-out-of-five passes against Furman for 26 yards, but added 112 yards on the ground.
Beamer was forced to use Taylor because of the offensive line's inability to pass-block.
Taylor struggled through the air most of the season and continued to battle injuries. He hurt his ankle on the first play against Florida State, which knocked him out for the rest of that game and the following week.
Once Taylor returned from injury, so did the two-quarterback system. Taylor was still the starter, but continued to struggle through the air.
However, the low point of Taylor's Virginia Tech career came against Duke. Taylor turned the ball over three times in the beginning of the first quarter, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble.
Beamer benched Taylor for the rest of the game, and the Hokies won a squeaker against a perennial bottom feeder in the ACC.
That performance seemed to turn Taylor's season around. He came back with a good outing against Virginia, won the MVP award in the ACC Championship, and led the team to an Orange Bowl victory against Cincinnati.
Overall, Taylor seemed to regress as a passer in 2008. He threw for more yards (1,036) but had only two passing touchdowns and seven interceptions. However, he did rush for 738 yards and seven touchdowns.
So, where does that leave Taylor for 2009?
The coaches noticed a hitch in Taylor's throwing motion, but didn't want to adjust the issue during the course of last season. Coaches have spent the offseason working with him on his throwing motion, and they say he no longer has a hitch.
The coaching staff hopes this produces a more accurate passer. Taylor completed 16-of-23 passes in the Hokies annual spring game for 188 yards and a touchdown.
Taylor has been working on his strength and conditioning as well. Taylor's ankles have caused him to miss time in his first two seasons. However, this year, Glennon isn't No. 2 on the depth chart. The unproven Ju-Ju Clayton, who has no experience playing quarterback at the college level, is the backup.
Coaches say Taylor has increased the strength in his ankles and they're hoping that will fix the problem. He also won the award for hardest worker during the Hokies spring practice, so everything seems to be moving in the right direction for Taylor and the Hokies.
The last two years has been a valuable learning process for the junior quarterback and Taylor will look to turn those growing pains around on opposing defenses.
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