AUBURN, Ala. Auburn wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor is about as excitable as it gets, whether its at a practice, an interview or a game.
So just because hes returning this weekend to Knoxville, where he was an assistant for four years, doesnt necessarily mean hell be taking things to another level.
I think hes at the level where you just cant crank it up anymore, Auburn coach Gene Chizik joked. I dont know that he can get more excited on a daily basis than he already is.
Taylor was a Vols assistant on Phil Fulmers staff from 2004-07, coaching first running backs and then wide receivers during that time, holding an assistant head coach title as well. He was an integral part of recruiting a number of players still on Tennessees roster, including safety Eric Berry and running back Montario Hardesty.
Taylor said he learned a lot during his time from Fulmer, who he described as genuine, a guy making almost $2 million and hed walk across the street and thered be paper blowing and hed stop and pick it up.
He also liked the way Tennessee went after top-ranked recruits from all over the country.
They didnt back down. They go after anybody, he said. They dont care whos recruiting them.
They felt like, when they had that T on their chest, youre in the top 5 and most of the time they were correct.
Taylor left Tennessee for Oklahoma State in 2008, mainly for the chance to become co-offensive coordinator. He joined Chiziks staff at Auburn last January.
Ive been doing this my 17th year, and Ive been able to take jobs when I was ready, not because I had to, Taylor said. Being in this business and not ever being fired, Id like to keep that record going, keep that streak alive.
You always try to go and do your best. If you take a job thinking, Im going to go to the next one, you probably wont be there long. But if you take a job thinking it will be your last, youll be there for a while. Thats what I try to do.
For 10 years, Eddie Gran served as Tommy Tubervilles running backs and special teams coach at Auburn, a run that came to an end when Tuberville abruptly resigned last December.
It didnt take Gran long to land on his feet, getting a job on Lane Kiffins staff at Tennessee, where he has the same coaching duties.
Gran was responsible for recruiting a number of players on Auburns roster, one of which was cornerback Walt McFadden, who is looking forward to the meeting.
We know how he used to use other people and teams and talk about them when he was here with us, McFadden said. We know hes saying the same thing about us. We can see him now saying These guys are sorry. These guys cant do it. These guys are going to give up.
Thats just motivation for us, so we know our old coach and how he acts on game week. He dont mean no harm by it, thats just him motivating his team.
Place-kicker Wes Byrum knocked through a 32-yard field goal against Ball State in his only attempt, making him a perfect 6-for-6 on the season, with four of those kicks coming from 40 yards or longer.
Thats a positive start for the junior, who suffered through an 11-for-19 sophomore campaign.
I dont know that surprised is the right word, special teams coordinator Jay Boulware said. When I first got here, I wasnt pleased with his production, or lack there of, in the spring or what I looked and saw on tape last year. We got him out there and worked some things, tried to dress up some things like his followthrough. Hes really worked hard at it, guys. All the credit goes to Wes.
Boulware didnt want to get ahead of himself with praise, however.
Were only a third of the way through (the season), he said.
Lets see how he finishes up.