Got motivation?
Lucas Taylor

Posted Jul 2, 2008


Two starters for Tennessee's offense might want to invest in a copy of Lindy's 2008 College Football Preview ... for motivation more so than information.

The two would be Lucas Taylor and Josh McNeil.

Taylor is ranked No. 20 among NCAA wide receivers in Lindy's “Player Ratings.” McNeil is nowhere to be found among the eight centers mentioned.

Lindy's has this to say about Taylor: “Leader of a fine group of UT receivers; not flashy, but solid and productive.”

Productive? Duh. The guy was leading the entire SEC in receiving yards (103 per game) midway through last season when he sustained a painful turf toe injury. Even playing the last half of the regular season on one foot and missing the Outback Bowl Game due to academic problems, Taylor still finished third among all SEC receivers in both catches (73) and receiving yards (1,000).

Taylor should gain additional motivation when he sees that three SEC receivers are ranked ahead of him on Lindy's list of elite wideouts. Florida's Percy Harvin is No. 3, South Carolina's Kenny McKinley is No. 4 and LSU's Demetrius Byrd is No. 12.

All three of those guys probably are faster than Taylor and all three probably are better NFL prospects. But Taylor has outdone them all in terms of college production. He had four fewer receptions last fall than McKinley (77) but 14 more than Harvin (59) and 38 more than Byrd (35). Taylor also piled up more receiving yards than McKinley (968), Harvin (858) and Byrd (621).

McNeil should feel even more slighted than Taylor. A 6-4, 280-pound junior, McNeil has started 23 games in his first two years on campus, and just might prove to be UT's best at the position since the great Bob Johnson was snapping the ball in the mid-1960s.

McNeil's snub probably can be traced to the fact he plays in a league overflowing with world-class centers. Lindy's ranks Arkansas's Jonathan Luigs No. 1, and rightfully so. Luigs won the 2007 Rimington Trophy as the NCAA's premier center. And McNeil certainly can't begrudge Alabama's Antoine Caldwell being ranked No. 5 or LSU's Brett Helms being No. 7.

Most likely, Lindy's was hesitant to list four SEC guys among its top eight centers. Still, McNeil probably deserves to be there.

While Taylor and McNeil may have been slighted a bit, several Vols got plenty of respect from the folks at Lindy's. For instance:

- Anthony Parker is ranked No. 2 at guard with the notation: “Best athlete on the Vols line; even filled at center in spring.” For what it's worth, Auburn's Tyronne Green is ranked No. 3 and LSU's Herman Johnson No. 5. Obviously, the SEC is loaded with good guards for 2008, too.

- Rico McCoy is rated No. 4 among outside linebackers with the notation: “106 tackles last year; can grab more spotlight with Jerod Mayo gone.” Incidentally, South Carolina's Eric Norwood is ranked No. 3, one spot ahead of McCoy.

- Eric Berry is tabbed No. 4 among safeties with the notation: “Freshman All-American had five picks; can play just about any skill spot.” Mississippi State's Derek Pegues is No. 6 and Bama's Rashad Johnson No. 9.

- Arian Foster is ranked No. 7 among running backs with the notation: "Just 684 more yards and he's No. 1 on Tennessee's career list." Georgia's Knowshon Moreno is No. 1, with Bama's Terry Grant No. 17, Mississippi State's Anthony Dixon No. 19 and LSU's Keiland Williams No. 24.

In a mild surprise, Daniel Lincoln is not listed among Lindy's top eight kickers, even though he was tabbed first-team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America as a freshman last fall.

In spite of All-America credentials and a great bloodline, Vol teammate Britton Colquitt is not among Lindy's top eight punters, no doubt because he has been suspended for the first five games of '08.

Finally, electrifying Dennis Rogan is not among the top eight return specialists, a list totally dominated by SEC players. Florida's Harvin is No. 1, with Gator teammate Brandon James No. 5, Alabama's Javier Arenas No. 7 and Ole Miss' Dexter McCluster No. 8.


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