Taylor Reynolds has had two seasons to sit behind a star-studded defensive line on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team and learn.
Now it's been his time to look and play the part of a starter.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive tackle has done the homework and has positioned himself to be a factor this season through his play in spring practice. He had a sack in Friday's scrimmage and has earned some high marks from his position coach, Marcus West.
"Taylor is looking like he belongs," West said after the scrimmage. "He's a starter. ... He's looking like a starter. He's still got to feel some things out with the game in terms of being able to do things fast, but he looks like a starter."
Reynolds was a spectator last season, for the most part. He played in all 14 games and had six tackles, helping on one for lost yardage, but he had plenty of time to learn behind graduated seniors Derrick Lott -- who could hear his name announced during the NFL draft in three weeks -- and Danny Ring. He's also had time to listen to fellow tackle Josh Freeman, who has earned some All-Southern Conference accolades in his career.
"I knew I had to wait on my opportunity to come, so I told myself coming into the spring that I had to really work hard to get where I needed to be," Reynolds said Saturday. "Last season, I was able to watch how those guys played; how they approached every game and practice; see how they prepared. I watched film on them to help improve on myself."
He's been able to showcase his improvements through 12 spring practices so far. Of course, the final exam will come later this week in Saturday's spring game. It'll be his first opportunity to show outsiders what he set out to show coaches three weeks ago -- that he is ready to make an impact.
"I wanted to have better technique and wanted to show the coaches that they can trust me on film," he said. "I've wanted to show that I can be a starter. I improved over the course of last year by practicing, but I still have to keep working.
"I'm anxious to get out on the field in a live game and show what I can do. I want to use my abilities on the field by playing hard, and I'm looking forward to it."
The Mocs start their final week of practice with a session this afternoon.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.