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May 13, 2013

Taylor looks back



GamecockCentral.com went one-on-one with former South Carolina defensive end and current Detroit Lion Devin Taylor to look back on his career in Columbia and forward to his future as an NFL player.

GamecockCentral.com: "Going back to the recruiting process, you were a three-star prospect coming out of Beaufort. Why did you decide on South Carolina?"

Devin Taylor: "I liked the school itself; the coaches and the program itself. The first thing was to see a place where I could myself going for four or five years, or even three. You could tell they just needed a couple more pieces to put together what they needed to be a high caliber team. That's what we ended up creating at South Carolina my last couple years."

GCC: "Even though you were a fourth-round draft pick, you didn't have a huge offer list and did not receive a ton of hype coming out of high school. Why do you think you flew under the radar some?"

DT:: "Just for the fact of all the superstars during that year that came out with me. We had Robert Quinn, Da'Quan Bowers, A.J. Green, Jaron Brown, all those names were getting more publicized than my name. Even with Beaufort in high school, we never were exposed to that much media attention to be recognized as one of the top athletes in the state."

GCC: "You grew a lot from your high school days to the end of your career at USC, both physically and as a player. To what do you attribute that growth?"

DT: "I feel like I was able to grow a lot mentally. The game itself is played a lot more in your head than on the field. Part of it is strength and running and the physical aspect but there's how your coach wants you to do stuff and how teams are going to react to what you're doing also."

GCC: "What is your favorite memory as a USC player?"

DT: "I would say mine would either be when we played Georgia at home my sophomore year during the beginning of the season or for the SEC East championship at Florida because that was the first time we ever beat them at The Swamp."

GCC: "What do you feel like your best individual play was at South Carolina?"

DT: "I would say my pick against Arkansas two years ago."

GCC: "Who would you say is the best player that you played with at South Carolina as a teammate?"

DT: "There are actually like two or three. Ace Sanders, Justice Cunningham, and DJ Swearinger."

GCC: "What about the best player you ever played against from another team?"

DT: "I can probably say (offensive tackle) D.J. Fluker from Alabama that ended up getting drafted."

GCC: "Who were some of your best friends that were teammates at South Carolina during your five years?"

DT: "Shaq Wilson, Reggie Bowens, Justice Cunningham, Aldrick Fordham, Byron Jerideau, Kenny Miles."

GCC: "Let me hear one of your favorite Steve Spurrier stories or something that he did that was funny."

DT: "I would say it probably would have been just a random moment. We're in a group meeting and he's naming out stuff, like academically or when someone got in trouble. For some reason he would automatically say "Ain't that right Akeem (Auguste)?" like he was someone who did it even though he wasn't."

GCC: "Moving to the NFL draft process, tell me a little bit about the training you did leading up to the draft. What was that process like?"

DT: "For training, I ended up training in like two different places. The first place was in Atlanta. After that I trained at 1st String Sports in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Both are good places for me to build up for football stuff as well as speed and agility. When I was in Virginia, I worked out with Bruce Smith. I felt like I learned enough just in the short period of time we met that I can use it in future games that I play.

For me, it was a little bit different than a couple other teammates just from the standpoint of I had a lot of film on the internet and things like that. I didn't have as many workouts or interviews as other players that were getting drafted, especially South Carolina-wise. I think I was supposed to have like one workout and that got cancelled and I had a visit with Denver. That was pretty much it for me. I didn't have any major phone calls saying teams wanted me. I knew teams liked me but I didn't know where I was going."

GCC: "Detroit drafted you in the fourth round. So really they just sort of came out of nowhere and it was a surprise?"

DT: "I had talked to them when I was at the combine and at the East-West all-star game but I talked with a lot of other teams too. My agent told me a lot of teams don't want to show their interest so you'll get randomly picked up a by a team that hasn't been talking to you. When draft day came, I didn't know the week before, the day before where I was going. I was just sitting there waiting to see where I would go."

GCC: "Was the draft round slot about where you thought it would be?"

DT: "I didn't have any super-high expectations. I was just happy to be drafted because that's a very rare thing in the first place. I was just looking to see who was getting picked up where, who all was available until my turn came to get drafted."

GCC: "The draft lasts three days, what was your plan for watching it? What did you do?"

DT: "The first day I don't remember. I was in Columbia still, just watching it. Friday, I came down and we were watching part of the draft at Outback with my family. On Saturday, I was not really in one spot. I was like in three different places kind of looking at the TV and getting ready to go out to eat with one of my former teachers when I got a phone call from Detroit."

GCC: "Describe that phone call."

DT: "It was very close to when they announced Marcus' name getting picked up. Me and my best friend from home, we were sitting there talking about possible teams that could maybe draft me and we were actually talking about Detroit at the time which was kind of funny. I was just awestruck that it happened. It was the player personnel guy, he said 'hey, we're going to pick you up this next pick. Are you excited?' I said 'yes sir I am.' I talked to him, the head coach and another guy within three minutes. After I talked with them they put me back on the phone with the press guy and said the media people from Detroit would call me within the next couple of hours."

GCC: "It was sort of a unique situation in that you and Marcus were picked back-to-back. I know you were not able to pay attention to his selection because of what you had going on personally at the time, but what were your feelings about seeing him come off the board?

DT: "I was happy for him. I knew that a team was going to pick him up. I didn't know when or where he was going to go. It was just ironic he went before me. I was just glad he got the chance to get drafted and picked up."

GCC: "What message would you give to South Carolina fans that followed your career and will continue to follow you in the pros?"

DT: "It's a real joy being part of the Gamecock family and playing every weekend for the Garnet and Black."

Previous installment: Justice Cunningham looks back

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