Dice injury forces Cary Taylor into receiving spotlight

By Craig Sanders

Arizona Daily Wildcat

When Cary Taylor

watches an Arizona

game, he sees his own image on the field piling up yards, cutting and slashing through defenses. Yet through his four years at Arizona, those images have been of his twin brother, running back Gary Taylor.

When Cary Taylor watches his brother, he knows that is where he wants to be.

"I think it's finally my chance," Taylor said. "I just want the opportunity to be out there. It's given me confidence and now I just have to go out there and perform."

When the Wildcats' most accomplished wide receiver, Richard Dice, injured his knee in practice Oct. 11, it signaled the chance for Taylor to prove his worth but it was not the way he wanted it to happen, nor how he pictured it happening. He would rather have been productive every season, working his way into the starting lineup. Unfortunately for Taylor, that was not a reality. Injuries kept Taylor on the sideline. An injury will put him in the starting lineup.

"Coming into the year, I was looking at this being a big year for me," Taylor said. "Unfortunately I got hurt in an early game. I just want to come out real strong and finish up my career real strong."

The Taylors joined the Arizona program in 1992 after both had solid careers at Morse High School in San Diego. Both were accomplished track athletes, and while Gary Taylor was a Best in the West selection at running back, Cary Taylor was playing quarterback, throwing for 850 yards and 15 touchdowns and running for another 650 yards his senior season big numbers, considering a hand injury kept him from playing in almost half of the games.

It was only the first in a long string of injuries. Taylor played as a true freshman in 1992, catching eight passes for 164 yards. In '93, a year in which Taylor was supposed to show his deep-threat abilities, he was caught in an off-campus drive-by shooting that limited him to conditioning drills through the spring. He returned for the start of the season, but continued to be slowed by nagging injuries. The sentiment that seemed to run through the program was, "just wait until this guy is healthy."

"We thought he was going to be a great player as a sophomore," Arizona head coach Dick Tomey said. "He had a huge game against USC (four catches, 118 and a touchdown), but he had a hamstring pull early in the season and never got well."

In '94 he moved into the starting lineup in a game against Washington State, but was slowed by hamstring and ankle injuries for the remainder of the season.

Taylor entered his

senior season looking

to become Arizona's starting wideout, alongside Dice. He was again injured early in the season and has missed recent games against Southern Cal and California with a right knee sprain.

For Taylor it has been a wasted opportunity. The Wildcats' passing game has continued to evolve, and with the injury to Dice, Tomey has been looking for a clutch receiver to take the wideout position opposite Arizona's leading receiver Rodney Williams. Taylor showed signs that he may be that man after coming up with a 17-yard touchdown reception against the Bruins. In a game in which the offense had been impotent all day, Taylor provided the big play that had been missing.

"We talked to Coach (Tomey) and we discussed what we have to do to make the team better," Taylor said. "We have to dig down inside and do a self check. We have to have the attitude that we can't be denied. Everyone can play better."

The injuries have been frustrating for Taylor. Almost as frustrating has been the production of his twin. Taylor said that is not because he is jealous, but because of his own limited success.

"It's been hard sitting on the sideline watching, but when my brother's out there I'm out there too," he said.

This season Gary Taylor has blossomed into both Arizona's leading rusher (517 yards rushing) and receiver (tied with 25 receptions). He has carried a majority of the offensive load for Arizona. The old adage "if we only had two of these guys" seemed almost ironic at this point.

"He has a lot of things you look for in a receiver," Tomey said of Cary Taylor, "but it's been a frustrating year for him, especially when his brother has been doing so well."

Taylor said he knows that Dice's departure has left a definite gap that needs to be filled. He said he also knows that he has become the chosen receiver to fill that gap.

"We have a good group of wide receivers and at least one of us has to step it up," he said. "For the younger players we have to pick them up and give them confidence. For the older players like myself we have to lead by example."

The five games left in the season may not lead Taylor to bigger and better things in football, but even if it doesn't, he has come away with a great deal from Arizona.

"The most important thing is for me to get my degree," Taylor said. "If I am unable to play at the other level, then I am prepared to deal with that. I do know I want to work with kids and give back to the community."

Perhaps Taylor is already where he needs to be.

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