NFL Draft Q&A: Louisiana Tech WR Trent Taylor
Our NFL Draft Q&A series continues with Louisiana Tech receiver Trent Taylor, who pops out for two distinct reasons: a ridiculous 136 catches this past season for 1,803 yards and 12 touchdowns playing for former USF coach Skip Holtz, and also his height: 5 feet, 7 5/8 inches, as measured at the Senior Bowl.
He's a prolific slot receiver -- consider his last game, with 12 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns in a bowl win against Navy. He took time to talk about his season, questions about his height and his drive to prove he can play at the next level.
Q: Where are you training for the draft?
A: "I'm in Frisco, Texas, right now, at the EXOS facility. We had our bowl game in Fort Worth and my agent (Erik Burkhardt) is from around this area and he took me on a tour through the facility. I figured 'Why not? Might as well go here.'"
Q: How was Mobile for you at the Senior Bowl, given a chance to show what you can do against other draft prospects?
A: "It was a great opportunity for me, coming from a smaller school. That's all you hear about at Louisiana Tech, that you don't play the best competition in the country so your stats don't matter, blah blah blah. It was a good opportunity for me to go out there and prove I belong at that level with the best athletes in the country. It was a fun week of competing. I feel like I could have done a little better, but at the end of the day, I feel like I improved my draft stock a little bit."
Q: I know you take pride in how you stepped up against tougher competition -- you had seven catches for 166 and two scores against Texas Tech this past season, 12 for 148 and a score against Kansas State the year before, a touchdown against Oklahoma, good stats against Auburn and Arkansas.
A: "We always played a couple of Power-5 teams each year, and I put up the same numbers against them that I did against conference opponents. That's why it doesn't make sense to me when people try to pull that card of not playing against good competition. When we played against Power-5 teams, nothing slowed down for me."
Q: Who is the best player you went up against in college?
A: "My junior year, Middle Tennessee had a safety, Kevin Byard, who was pretty good. He plays with the Titans now. I remember going against him. He's a strong, competitive guy."
Q: What sports did you play most, outside of football?
A: "Any sport you can think of. Growing up, all sports, and once I got to high school (Shreveport Evangel Christian), I played basketball and was an all-state basketball player at point guard. I played tennis believe it or not, was a state runner-up in tennis. I ran track, did the long jump. I played anything I possibly could. I wish I could have played baseball too, but that took too much of my time."
Q: Of the slot guys and shorter receivers in the NFL, is there one you like the most or pattern yourself after?
A: "I like to watch everybody's game. There's not a guy in particular I watch more than the others, but I always enjoy watching Steve Smith play. That's for sure. The passion he brings to the game and how much he loves the game and the way he goes out and competes every single day. That's always fun to watch and that's the kind of player I want to be."
Q: I talked to FSU's Kermit Whitfield at Shrine and he's another undersized receiver. How motivated are you by people who dismiss you based on height?
A: "I've heard that all my life growing up, how my body isn't made to be a football player, how I should go out and play baseball instead of football. Going to college, I had only one offer, which was Louisiana Tech, and even once I got there, I'm not too sure the coaches believed in me at the start."
Q: You committed when Sonny Dykes was head coach, but Holtz honored your scholarship when he took over. How quickly did you win him over?
A: "I ended up starting four games into my freshman year, so I guess that would be the time he started believing in me. About a year ago, he told me: 'Trent, I'm going to be honest with you. I wasn't too sure about you when you first came in. I didn't know if you were going to be able to do any good for us. You sure proved me wrong.'"
Q: Junior year, you finished with 99 catches. That has to be a motivation of sorts, to finish so close to 100, and then of course, you get 136 as a senior.
A: "When I heard I got 99, I was pretty mad. I was mad at my coach in a joking way. He didn't realize it. 'You could have thrown me a quick bubble or something to get me 100.' But getting 136 definitely made up for it. Not too many complaints about that any more. I know that doesn't happen too often. I know it's not easy to do, but our offense at Louisiana Tech always put me in the best situation to be successful, and I had great players around me to help me get there."
Q: What's the key to you in being a good slot receiver?
A: "You have to understand how to run routes, how to get separation from the DB, how to read defenses, know how to find holes in the defense and where to sit. Slot receiver is just a bunch of feeling around the defense and finding the hole, so you have to have a good understanding of the game, and I feel like I have that."
Q: Which NFL teams have you had the most contact with?
A: "At the Senior Bowl, it was a rat race, talking to every team back-to-back. You walk down to the lobby and there's 100 scouts waiting to talk to you. I'm not focusing on who seemed most interested in me. I know the draft process, knowing you can end up wherever. I've heard from plenty of buddies that the team they got drafted to was the team they were least expecting."
Q: Is there something in particular you're focusing on going into combine and your pro day?
A: "Obviously, I'm focusing on my 40-yard dash. It'll be a big deal for me. It's not anything I'm worried about, but that's one of my main focuses. I think proving myself at the Senior Bowl was more of a big deal to me, just showing I can run routes and make plays against the competition. Being 5-8, my body statute, I'm not going to be wowing people at the combine. I think most NFL scouts know that, but the combine will be a fun experience."
Q: What did you weigh in Mobile?
A: "I was 177, which is really light for me. A week before, I was sick for about five days where I could barely eat so I lost a bunch of weight, and I'm still trying to get that back right now. I usually played throughout the season between 182 and 185."
Q: If I'm in Ruston, what's your best food recommendation for where I should eat?
A: "I'd say Brister's Smokehouse. Little barbecue place, or Ponchatoulas. Those are probably my two main. At Ponchatoulas, I get the stuffed catfish. Really good stuff. At Brister's, they have a thing called the Scatterload. If you're ever up there, get a Scatterload. It's all the meats mixed in together. It's really good.
Q: How close to graduation are you?
A: "I'm about 12 hours from graduating. Finance. I'm taking some online classes right now, hopefully can be finished by the time summer comes around."