Taylor made right choices in athletic career

Updated: October 14, 2003, 5:03 PM ET

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Everything in his childhood pointed to Jamaar Taylor becoming a basketball player. His father and uncle played basketball and his favorite childhood toy was a basketball, not a football.

So how did Taylor get to be the No. 2 yardage receiver in Texas A&M football history? He needs only 36 yards to become the school's all-time leader when the Aggies play the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday.

"I was brought up playing basketball since I can remember," Taylor said. "I remember asking my mom if I could play football and she said it was too dangerous. My dad wanted me to play basketball. ... My mom has pictures when I'm 2-years-old putting the ball in the basket."

Add to that, the family history. Taylor's father, Henry, was a standout at Texas-Pan American and his uncle, Jeff Taylor, played basketball at Texas Tech and with the Houston Rockets.

The turning points in Taylor's athletic career came when he convinced his protective mom to allow him to play football in the seventh grade and when Mission High School coach Carlos Cavazos advised him as senior to give up basketball hoops for the gridiron.

"He said basketball isn't going to get you out of the (Rio Grande) Valley, football will do that," Taylor said. "So my high school coach gave me some good advice there."

After high school, Taylor stayed for one unhappy season at Notre Dame. Then, he transferred to A&M and started building his reputation. He sat out the 2000 season and after only 25 games has moved near the top of the Aggies receiving list.

He has 108 career catches for 1,705 yards. He's close to the record of 1,740 yards set last season by Bethel Johnson and 10 receptions away from breaking Johnson's career record of 117.

"I wanted to play football as a kid because I enjoyed contact," Taylor said. "Playing basketball, you play the post and that's a little contact. Now I get a chance to do it every day. It's a bonus."

Even as a wide receiver, it's been hard for Taylor to get enough contact. Aggie tackle Alan Reuber likes Taylor's aggressive style.

"He doesn't put up with much crap, I like that about him," Reuber said. "We need that out there. I don't know if that's a common attitude for a wide receiver. He almost has that attitude of an offensive lineman.

"I think I've heard him say he could have been a good offensive lineman if he'd had a bigger body."

Wide receivers coach Kenith Pope has picked up on Taylor's aggressive nature.

"This isn't a soft game," Taylor said. "You've got to have the mentality you're the hammer or the nail, and I try more often to be the hammer. Coach Pope emphasizes us getting after the defensive backs because most of the time they're in a comfort zone.

"We try to disrupt that comfort zone so they'll have another thing to worry about and not just us running routes."

Taylor has been a big part of the Aggies' offensive improvement, despite their 3-3 record. Taylor caught five passes for 145 yards in Saturday's 73-10 victory over Baylor, including a 91-yard touchdown catch that was the fourth longest in A&M history.

This season, Taylor has 25 catches for 456 yards and four touchdowns.

"Jamaar has given us consistent week in and week out play," Coach Dennis Franchione said. "He's certainly made some big plays for us."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index