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For Tyrod Taylor, Senior Bowl week is about impressing NFL scouts

The ball is snapped and Tyrod Taylor drops back into the pocket.

Six hundred watchful eyes focus on the former Hampton and Virginia Tech star as he scans the field for an open receiver.

He fires the pass and within seconds, notes are made on sheets of paper. Each line possibly determining the quarterback's fate.

Taylor is one of a hundred college football players in Orlando this week preparing for Saturday's East-West Shrine Game. An opportunity to work out in front of the hundreds of NFL scouts and agents, who line the practice fields watching and noting their every move.

For Taylor, the goal is simple.

"Just to come out here and compete at a high level," Taylor said after practice.

"We compete at a high level in the ACC, but when you bring everyone together from across the nation it brings more competition," he added.

While winning Saturday's game is important, the overall goal for this week is impressing the NFL scouts whose final words could determine whether or not a player is drafted or not. The players here are all instructed by former NFL players and coaches including the East squad's head coach, Dan Reeves.

"I want to try to learn as much as I can from coach Dan Reeves and he's done a good job of coaching us, so I'm just taking it all in and putting it on the field," Taylor said.

It's been a roller coaster of a season for the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Hokies leader. After losing the first game of the season to Boise State, 33-30, Virginia Tech faltered in what can only be described as one of the biggest upsets of the college football, a 21-16 loss to James Madison.

"We didn't start off as well as we wanted to, we were 0-2, but we turned things around and I think that was a show of leadership from the seniors and from me just to go out there and to rally the team and get them back on the right track," Taylor said.

Virginia Tech went on to win 11 straight games — including a victory over Florida State in the ACC championship game — and earn a berth in the Orange Bowl, where the Hokies were defeated 41-12 by Stanford.

Taylor finished as the ACC's Player of the Year, throwing for 2,743 yards and 24 touchdowns while rushing for 659 yards and five touchdowns.

He finished his career in Blacksburg as the school's career leader in total offense, passing yards, rushing yards by a quarterback, wins by a starting quarterback and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.

Most draft experts believe Taylor will hear his name called in the fifth round or later and some wonder if he won't have to change positions to continue his playing career in the NFL.

However, Reeves doesn't believe that will be the case.

"I've seen a lot of quarterbacks and I think he can play quarterback and play well," the former veteran NFL coach said.

For Taylor, his focus is on being the best he can be at this moment.

"Right now I am just trying to train myself to be the best player I can and the best quarterback I can," Taylor said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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