Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Taylor Well Aware of Dunn's Breakout Ability; the Jaguars Star Almost Was an FSU Teammate of the Current Falcon

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Taylor Well Aware of Dunn's Breakout Ability; the Jaguars Star Almost Was an FSU Teammate of the Current Falcon

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO

In his senior year of high school, Fred Taylor committed to play football at Florida State -- until he had a chance to see then-freshman Warrick Dunn run for the Seminoles.

"I had a change of heart," Taylor said with a smile Wednesday as he talked about his decision to switch to Florida so he didn't have to compete with Dunn for carries for three years.

The decision didn't please FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who told Taylor, "You must be less than a man to change your mind."

Taylor's decision looked wise, though, when Dunn ran for 3,959 yards at FSU and was taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 12th pick in the 1997 draft.

Taylor went on to rush for 3,075 yards at Florida and was selected by Jaguars with the ninth pick in the 1998 draft.

One decade later, Taylor and Dunn rank second and third, respectively, on the NFL active list, and both are chasing the elite 10,000-yard mark. Only 20 players in NFL history have reached that figure.

Dunn is at 9,516 yards, and Taylor is at 9,529. Edgerrin James of the Arizona Cardinals leads all active rushers with 10,477 yards.

The play of Taylor and Dunn play Sunday will be a key storyline when the Falcons make their first regular-season trip to Jacksonville since 1996.

The Jaguars allowed 282 yards on the ground to the Tennessee Titans last week, including 175 yards in 19 carries by Chris Brown.

And the Jaguars will try to get their running game cranked up after Taylor and Maurice Drew combined for just 48 yards on 13 carries.

Taylor has respected Dunn since he first saw him play.

"He's a special running back," Taylor said. "He deserves everything he's gotten to this point."

Taylor, who's listed at 6-1 and 228 pounds, noted that there were questions about Dunn when he came out of FSU because he's 5-9 and 180. But the size factor has never been a problem for Dunn.

"Eleven years later, he's still putting up numbers," Taylor said. "He's as tough as they can be."

Dunn actually has improved as he has grown older. He's one of only four running backs (LaDainian Tomlinson, Rudi Johnson and the retired Tiki Barber are the other three) to gain more than 1,000 yards in each of the past three seasons. …

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