by Kerry Taylor
When we last spoke, I was a ball of stress and worry. Why? You may ask, well, the landscape of my position was about to change. New guys were being brought in left and right. Anyone who fully and truly follows football knows that when a new coach comes in he slowly changes the roster and brings his own people in. I was getting nervous because of that. There were 3 of us when the off-season started, Eric Bjornson, Rod Rutledge and myself.
Not bad, right?! Well, I knew they were going to probably bring in 1, maybe 2 more guys to the position and let us compete. By the time the last mini camp started there were 3 more guys added to the position, Rob Tardio, Chris Eitzman, and Dave Stachelski.
All of you guys that know me well know I never back down from competition. That wasn't my worry at all. My worry was that my opportunities to show what I could do would decrease. There are only X amount of reps you get in practice. The more people at your position, the more that number gets divided up. Hopefully the chances I would get would really showcase my talents. God forbid you make a mistake, there's an opportunity down the drain. The key is how do you come back from that mistake? You have to have a short memory.
Unfortunately for me, my memory is not short. Instead of me being the hardworking, carefree athlete on the field that was able to showcase his talents, I started to play like a (excuse my language) tight ass that was afraid to make mistakes. That's not how you play the game. It really started to show itself to me when we were doing an open field tackling drill. My goal was to make the tackler miss. However, I just couldn't make one person miss because I was moving too much like a robot, too afraid to make a mistake. It got to a point that after practice and films that day, my position coach kept me after to have a private conversation. I remember it like it was yesterday.
"Kerry, what's going on? You're not yourself out there."
"I don't know coach."
"Listen, I know there are more guys at your position but that cannot affect how you play. You have a limited amount of snaps and you have to make them count."
"I got it coach."
"Listen, if you weren't good enough you wouldn't be here at all or have been around all last season. Just relax and play."
After that conversation, I knew I had to get my sh!t together. That was hi or the team's way of saying, "we're watching you and want to know if you're worth keeping around." I got up and went for a two hour drive to nowhere to collect my thoughts and try to clear my head.
I eventually was able to relax and regain the confidence in myself and my abilities. I was doing better everyday in practice and my position coach confirmed it during film sessions by complimenting some of the plays I was making. But, was it too little too late? Tune in next time as we head into training camp. Does your boy have what it takes?