The 2009 season is the year that Tyrod Taylor has been waiting for, ever since he entered the world of college football.
He will finally be the undisputed starting quarterback for Virginia Tech for the upcoming season.
Taylor has spent his first two years at Virginia Tech sharing playing time with then-starting quarterback Sean Glennon, combined with fighting off a nagging ankle injury. He was even redshirted at the beginning of last season, but that did not last long at all, after a poor performance against ECU, Taylor's redshirt was removed and he was back into the action. He has also been shaking early comparisons to former Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick, comparisons made due to Taylor's uncanny ability to scramble and pickup yards in situations where it seems there aren't any to gain.
He wound up being the second leading rusher for the Hokies in 2008, a team that had a 10-4 season, winning the ACC and the Orange Bowl.
Finally Taylor will be able to have the peace of mind on the field, that a bad read, or a turnover won't send him straight back to the bench. He has become a lot more vocal in his new leadership role at Virginia Tech. He has been calling several "players only" meetings and has been a leader on and off of the field, building confidence with this year's Hokies.
Taylor and Virginia Tech have heard their fare share of insults towards Taylor's performance at the quarterback position. Insults that stem from statistics, and it's hard to argue against the stats. Taylor finished the 2008 season completing only 57 percent of his passes, and throwing for more interceptions than touchdowns.
The 2009 season is shaping up to be the perfect year and opportunity for Taylor to display exactly who he is, and what he has to offer.
He has taken the time to understand what his problems are and has taken the initiative to correct them. He spent time in the offseason as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State. Being a counselor wasn't the only thing he spent his time doing, he also took the opportunity to take pointers from the likes of Peyton and Eli Manning. He has focused his efforts on eliminating a hitch in his throwing motion, a problem that has been disturbing his range and accuracy.He has acquired the trust of his coaching staff and teammates, and is fully prepared to take this Virginia Tech team as far as they can go.
Another positive for this season to go along with Taylor's improvements in the passing game, are the receivers he will be throwing to. He has three sophomore wideouts this year that are a year more experienced than they were as freshmen last year, a year that includes an Orange Bowl victory. Danny Coale, Jarrett Boykin, and Dyrell Roberts combined for 80 catches last season. Starting at tight end this year will again be Greg Boone, who stands as a large target for Taylor, Boone grabbed 22 passes last season.
Virginia Tech held a spring game that hinted at what could be the break-out year for Tyrod Taylor. His throwing motion has been reported as being a lot tighter, and his receivers showed a lot of improvement in running their routes. One such receiver was Dyrell Roberts, who turned what would have been a 13-yard play into a 40-yard gain showing off some improved foot work. The first preseason scrimmage held at Virginia Tech didn't provide much of a view of Taylor, who saw limited action, throwing for 31 yards on 4-of-7 attempts.
There is no doubt about it, if Taylor could establish his passing game as a serious threat, he could become a very dangerous quarterback. Coming into his junior season, he has been doubted and downed by critics as much as anyone could be, but he is believed in by his coaches, teammates, and his fans.
Last year Taylor provided stunning plays like his 73-yard run at home against UVA, or his scrambling touchdown against Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl, and I'm sure he will have plenty of tricks in store for 2009. They won't come easy though, the first month includes the kick-off game against powerhouse Alabama, a home game against top-25 ranked Nebraska, and ACC action against Miami in Blacksburg.
Critics and football fans alike can doubt him all they would like, but when Tyrod Taylor starts the game for Virginia Tech, their record is 13-2...that's hard to argue against.