Q and A: Lance Taylor
Stanford looked to the NFL coaching ranks to fill the staff vacancy left by Mike Sanford's departure, hiring Carolina Panthers assistant wide receivers coach Lance Taylor to coach the Cardinal running backs.
Taylor, who played and coached at the University of Alabama, also made stops at Appalachian State and with the New York Jets before heading West to The Farm.
Cardinal Sports Report caught up with Taylor after a recent Stanford practice to discuss his decision to join the Cardinal coaching staff and his position group.
Cardinal Sports Report: Before we get into today's practice and the position group, I'm wondering how it came about that you wound up here. I know your have familiarity with Coach Bloomgren. Can you take me through that process?
Lance Taylor: Yeah, I have a history with Coach Bloomgren. He was a graduate assistant when I was a player at Alabama, so our history is pretty deep. And actually he was the guy who gave me my first NFL in New York with the Jets. And then he left New York to come out here and I stayed in New York for another two seasons and then was in Carolina this past year. He called me after the season and asked would I be interested.
It was just this place, you fall in love with it. We had a great year in Carolina. It was one of those things where (we had a) great staff, great group of players. It was probably the most fun I've had in the NFL in terms of locker room and overall place of living. My wife and I didn't know if we would leave because she's pregnant and so we didn't know if we would move her during the pregnancy. But you come out here and you just fall in love with the place, Coach Shaw, what he's done here. I mean, what he's built here is unbelievable.
CSR: I know a lot of your background has been coaching the receivers. How has that transition been to a new position group so far?
LT: You know, there's been some learning curve. More in terms of learning the offense with new terminology than it has been with the running backs. Coach Shaw obviously knew that when he hired me. I was a running back way back in the day in high school. But it has been different. I've worked with receivers, the great thing for me is I've been able to work with different position groups so it's made me more well-rounded, I feel like. It's given me more knowledge of the offense. (Strong winds rendered the rest of Taylor's answer largely inaudible, but he referenced working with tight ends, quarterbacks and running backs at various times in his career. He also mentioned that David Shaw and Tavita Pritchard, who have coached running backs at Stanford in the past, have been available as resources if Taylor has any questions.)
CSR: I know you haven't been at Stanford for very long, but from what you've seen, what are some of the differences recruiting to Stanford and recruiting to Alabama?
LT: I honestly haven't gotten into recruiting here yet - (I'm just) two weeks in and just took my (NCAA recruiting) test. But at Alabama, it's very different in the south because you're in a hotbed of really good players within a five-hour radius. What it seems like here is you have to be able to go out and get young men to want to come on campus here. If you get them on campus they'll fall in love with it. The way Coach Shaw presents himself, the facilities here, the school, that stuff all speaks for itself. So the biggest thing to me here is being able to get guys here to see what Stanford has to offer. At Alabama most kids can drive.
CSR: With the running backs, there's obviously a pretty large group of them. At this point have any of them separated from the pack a little bit, from the committee, so to speak?
LT: No. It's too early to tell. Really today was the first day where we got after it in a scrimmage-type situation. Obviously only two days in pads. We'll continue to evaluate it. I think the group is excited with me coming in as a new coach and really three, four or five guys having been here and knowing the system but hadn't got a ton of playing time, they feel like, 'Hey, we all have a chance to play and make an impact on this football team.' That's the way I feel: It's a clean slate and we're going to let everybody compete out here in the spring and fight it out for spots.
CSR: At fullback, Lee Ward was taking most of the reps with the ones (on Saturday), but Eddie Plantaric and Chris Harrell, have they also joined the fullback group?
LT: Yes they have. They've been working with us and they've done a really nice job. Sometimes it's a tough transition especially when all you've been working with is the tight ends. But they've done a really nice job. The effort has been great. And Patrick Skov has really been doing well. He's done a nice job this spring.
CSR: Finally, have you had a chance to watch any film of Christian McCaffrey? Are you familiar with him?
LT: I have yes, yeah. I watched him. He's a very electric player, a touchdown-scoring machine. I actually knew about him just from his dad. I don't know his dad personally, but knowing Ed McCaffrey, who he was, and a bit about his son, when I was in the NFL I had heard that he was a really good player. He's one of those guys that just loves football… Everything you can give him he eats it up. So we're excited to get him on campus.
CSR: Last thing kind of related to that, how do you envision him fitting into the offense from the running back spot?
LT: You know, I have no idea. I wasn't in the recruiting process. Coach Shaw and I haven't talked about it. We're obviously excited about him… He's a dynamic player and dynamic players that can score touchdowns, they find their way onto the field no matter what role it's in. We'll find that come fall camp.