URBANA — Coran Taylor admits the first half of his freshman season wasn’t easy. The Peoria native didn’t play a single snap during the 2018 season, redshirting as a true freshman.
Some perspective a year later with Taylor in his second training camp has the Illinois quarterback thankful for what his first year afforded him.
“It was a good learning opportunity for me to sit back and take time away from the field and work on the plays and work on myself,” Taylor said after Wednesday’s practice at the Campus Recreation Fields. “It was tough for the first half of it, but after a while I wasn’t mad about it or anything. I appreciated it because I didn’t want to get out here and not know anything and mess myself up.”
Taylor is more comfortable in offensive coordinator Rod Smith’s scheme this time in training camp. That wasn’t the case a year ago at this time.
“Five days into camp last year I got lost in the new installment and the new plays,” Taylor said. “This year I’m on top of everything. I know more of the playbook this go around.”
What hasn’t changed in training camp is Taylor participating in a quarterback competition. Illinois is back in that mode again this month after AJ Bush Jr. won out in last year’s camp battle in his lone season with the Illini.
Taylor’s reps were limited Wednesday during the team’s full 11-on-11 work. The bulk of the reps went to Matt Robinson, Brandon Peters and walk-on Cam Miller, with Isaiah Williams getting a precautionary light workload.
“You’ve got to take mental reps when you’re not in,” Taylor said. “Then you’ve got to make the most of the reps that you do get so (Smith) can see that you’re paying attention and know what you’re doing so he can get you more reps.”
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Taylor said he’s seeing improvement in his game each day of camp. His goal through the rest of the month is to show more consistency day to day.
“Win over (Smith’s) trust,” Taylor said. “I’m still showing my dual threat ability and showing them that I’m learning to read coverages better and learning the plays better.”
While Illinois’ quarterbacks are once again competing for that top spot on the depth chart, Taylor said the group also helps each other.
“This group is full of great guys,” he said. “They are talented athletes. Brandon Peters is really smart. Isaiah is athletic as can be. Fast. Shifty. Whatever you want to call it. Matt is Matt. He’s from Cali and has that swag. We all help each other out.”