December 2, 2009

Practice Insider: End in sight for Mays

When Taylor Mays steps on the field at the Coliseum for the final time as a Trojan, he's not expecting things to be too emotional.

Like a President waiting out the final days of his term, Mays knows the end has to come sometime. He's just focused on playing one more game at a high level.

"Honestly, I really don't care," Mays said. "I've been fortunate to play a lot of games in the Coliseum, a lot more games than most people play for good teams, great teams, great coaches and with a lot of great players. I've been fortunate to be in that place so many times there. One last time, it's funny, but I feel like it's inevitable, and it should happen.

".... I'm fine. I don't want another year, and I don't regret coming back. It's kind of been perfect. It's just inevitable at some point you have to move on."

It could've happened last year. Many people expected Mays to bypass his senior season and enter the NFL Draft early, but he returned to become a more complete player.

"He's made (improvements) in what he's seeing," Pete Carroll said. "He's able to diagnose what's going on really well. He's in really good command of the system such that he can correct guys, position guys, place guys in the right spots, give the heads-ups and alerts - the kind of awareness that's necessary for really being a contributing factor to other guys' play.

"He's been consistent all year long."

Mays leads USC with 82 total tackles. His 42 solo tackles also is tops on the Trojans. Still, teams haven't tested Mays all that often.

"He's really not had very many opportunities. The ball has not come his way at all, and for all of the right reasons," Carroll said. "He's been highly regarded and respected because he should be. He's had a lot of good hits. He's had a lot of fundamental stuff that he's done right. And he hasn't had a lot of negative plays all year long. He got caught up in the Ohio State game on a read, but he just hasn't had that many chances.

"It's been frustrating for him because he wants to do everything, but he's dealt with it fine. I think he's played real well."


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