January 17, 2014
Top 25 Countdown: Ramon Taylor
Junior cornerback Raymon Taylor proved himself the most prolific tackler on Michigan's roster in 2013. He's looking to take a leap forward as a senior, but still fit easily into the Wolverines' top 25 performers this year, at No. 14.
The Top 25 is voted on by the staff of TheWolverine.com.
Preseason Expectations: Taylor entered 2013 off a sophomore season in which he improved significantly over the course of the year. He started 11 games in his first two years at Michigan, but still needed to get better in certain areas, according to secondary coach Curt Mallory.
"The thing he's got to improve on is his eyes," Mallory said. "He's gotten sloppy with his eyes. If they are at the right place, he can be as good as there is. He's strong, physical and fast, and he's got the hips. It's just his eyes at times get locked into the quarterback when he needs to get locked into the man, or vice-versa.
"There were times he showed signs of being a good player, but other times he wasn't as good because he did something undisciplined. But he's got it in him. That's why you get excited, because you can see him do some really good things before he reverts back. We've got to keep challenging him."
His Season: Taylor's 86 tackles led the team, and his 61 solo stops proved 15 more than the nearest U-M defender recorded. Taylor posted half a sack among 1.5 tackles-for-loss. His four interceptions ranked second on the team only to Blake Countess' six, and Taylor's nine pass-breakups were more than twice what any other Michigan player recorded.
He also supplied a quarterback hurry, in his even-dozen starts on the year. Taylor kept the Michigan State game from being even worse than it was for the Wolverines, recording 12 tackles and breaking up a pass attempt.
Other big efforts included 11 tackles, including a tackle-for-loss, in the win over Notre Dame, and nine tackles with a pass breakup and a fumble recovery at Iowa. Here is a game-by-game look at what Taylor did in 2013:
TheWolverine.com Analyst Will Heininger: "Ramon made some plays this year that he would never have made last year, or the year before. He took some chances. He also took some chances and learned that you can get beat taking chances.
"He has the speed to run with most people and his technique has gotten better. He needs to continue to play within himself and do his job, do what's asked of him. He can do that job pretty well.
"In this offseason and going into next season, I'd look for him to help the team whatever way he can, continue to push, play with athleticism and see what happens in terms of a senior year, accomplishing the goals they want to accomplish. He's another kid I liked playing with.
"He always wanted to know more, always wanted to learn more, always wanted to get better, and cares. You can tell how he cares when he's out there on the field. Watching him play, his reactions - even in the bowl game, he got beat on one play and you could see how frustrated he was, because he thought the guy pushed off. He looked back, and he did.
"He'll learn from that. He may give a strategic push next time around. He's someone who is a good kid, a good representative of Michigan and I look for him to have a big senior year."
Sneak Peek At 2014: It's hard to imagine Taylor not teaming once again with Countess in a very veteran Michigan secondary. Taylor, like Michigan's other veterans, needs to continue to take strides to show he can operate at a high level of effectiveness.
Taylor will once again be challenged to see the game better than he has in his three years at Michigan. He'll examine the big plays given up, in which he could have done differently. He'll likely be asked to mentor younger players again.
The heat will be on for all of Michigan's defense, after highly disappointing season-ending performances against Ohio State and Kansas State. Taylor should be in position to help turn around the perception of a defense that seemed to lose its way late.
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