Each week leading up to the 2014 football season we'll be profiling current UB football players who are looking to "Make the Leap" or breakout this season. These can include any current UB players whether that be a backup coming into a starters role or a starter that is ready to elevate their game to the next level. Our first profile will be on running back Anthone Taylor.
2013 Season Review
Last season Taylor (5-10, 209) was finally able to take the field for the Bulls once again after missing the entire 2012 season due to injury. Taylor was the primary backup to Branden Oliver, and served as a spot starter when Oliver was injured; Taylor seized every opportunity when he was on the field racking up 399 yards rushing to go with 3 rushing touchdowns, he also pitched in 45 receiving yards on 7 receptions.
In his lone start last season against Stony Brook, and in the game against Miami (OH), Taylor showed that he can be a bellcow back much like Branden Oliver was for Buffalo. Against Stony Brook he rushed for 118 yards on 24 attempts with 2 rushing touchdowns, including the game winner in the 5th overtime. Against Miami (OH) Taylor had a career day rushing for 154 yards on 17 carries outshining even Branden Oliver.
Here's a video of a rush Taylor had against Stony Brook showcasing his speed, and ability to explode through the gap to pick up big yards.
Overall, Taylor had a limited impact in 2013 given the presence of Branden Oliver, but he was effective in limited action on the field.
Taylor is the Bulls' most experienced back, and with Devin Campbell more of a receiver than a between the tackles runner, so Taylor has the advantage of experience over most of the other backs. However, only two things stand in his way from locking down the starting job:
- His Health: The longevity of backs is much shorter than most other positions so it is a bit concerning that Taylor has already suffered a season ending knee injury. It remains to be seen if his body can take the pounding that running backs do during a full season of action. If his able to show the coaching staff in camp that his body is able to the task of a full workload, he will be that much closer to being named the starter.
- Gary Hosey: In my opinion, true freshman Gary Hosey is the biggest obstacle standing in Taylor's way of the starting gig. Hosey (6-0, 230), a 3-star recruit from UB pipeline Cass Tech in Detroit, MI, is a bruising and powerful runner who punishes defenders and racked up over 3,500 rushing yards over his final two seasons as a high schooler. Jeff Quinn isn't afraid to play true freshmen so if Hosey impresses in camp he could steal some carries away from Taylor.
Branden Oliver is gone, and the keys have been handed to Anthone Taylor. He has shown on a couple of occasions that he can be a featured back in Offensive Coordinator Alex Wood's system. He has shown great patience, lightning quick speed and power to run between the tackles, much like his mentor Branden Oliver.
Taylor will need to improve on his pass blocking skills and pass catching abilities to be a complete back, but there is no reason why he shouldn't be able to lock down the starting job for the season. A split backfield, or running back by committee is unrealistic given that Head Coach Jeff Quinn and Wood like to give one runner the lions share of the carries, while giving the backups mop up duty. So it's reasonable to expect that Taylor will have 150-200+ carries on the season.
Bottom line? If his performances against Stony Brook and Miami (OH) are any indication of his abilities I fully expect Taylor to take the reigns and pick up right where Branden Oliver left off, by running over all of the competition in the MAC.
Prediction: 225 rushes, 1100 yards, 7 rushing touchdowns
Here's a great video made by Bull Run's Jonathan Snyder with an interview of Taylor near the end: