ATHENS - John Taylor has yet to play a down in a real college game, and he's still trying to get a starting spot for this season. His talent, however, is so vast that the senior member of Georgia's defensive line is setting the bar quite high.
"At the end of (Taylor's) career he'll probably be one the best linemen to ever play here," senior defensive end Garrison Smith said. "Because he's that physically gifted."
One of the best linemen to ever play at Georgia?
"I truly believe that," Smith said. "I never met a guy as physically as gifted as he is. And once he puts it in the technique he'll be in the best to ever play."
The latter part is the key. Taylor now weighs in at 334 pounds, a good weight for a nose tackle, but he's athletic enough that he was moved to defensive end during spring practice. This preseason he's working at nose and end, like every defensive linemen.
Defensive line coach Chris Wilson has said he's looking for the best seven-or-eight players for a line rotation, and claims he's not differentiating between nose and end.
Taylor was asked whether his goal was to be among those seven or eight - or among the starting three or four, depending on whether they start in a 3-4 or 4-2-5. Taylor gave a good, diplomatic answer.
"My goal is to be one of the seven or eight, or also try hard and get in that rotation with the ones, and show what I can do," he said. "Coaches want to see me playing with great effort, good technique, know my plays, not many errors. That's basically."
Georgia has had some pretty good defensive linemen lately, including John Jenkins the past two years, and Geno Atkins, who played from 2006-09. Just limiting it to Mark Richt's 12-year tenure as head coach, other notables include David Pollack, Jonathan Sullivan, Robert Geathers, Kedric Golston and Charles Johnson. (And some other good ones are being left out.)
But when Smith was asked to compare Taylor to someone, he opted for Vince Wilfork, the 10-year veteran of the New England Patriots, who went to Miami, as well as Glenn Dorsey, the Kansas City Chief who starred at LSU.
"They called (Wilfork) 'Big Daddy' when he was in college. (Taylor's) that type of guy," Smith said. ""As he develops, that's the type of player he will be. As he develops. He's got a long way to go. But I'm telling you, them physical tools are there. He's probably got the strength of an NFL linemen right now. He's just gotta continue to work."