Taylor Mays: “I was almost caught off-guard because of what I thought was going to happen and what ended up happening.”April 29, 2010 – 10:30 am by timgunter
Former USC safety Taylor Mays got his first taste of what the NFL is all about when he dropped to the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the draft. Last year, he was projected to be a top-fifteen pick but after consulting with his former coach, Pete Carroll, and some current and former NFL players, Mays decided to come back for his senior year and play one more year of college football. His decision to come back was because he wanted to hone his skills so that he could become a better football player and improve his already high draft status. Unfortunately for him, all that did was allow scouts to watch more film and poke more holes in his game which, in my opinion, was one of the reasons for the sudden freefall in the draft. His lofty draft status from last year, the success he had while playing as well as running a sub-par 4.3 forty-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, led Mays to believe that he was a lock to become a first round pick. The NFL is a business and Mays learned that firsthand.
Taylor Mays joined Fox Sports Radio in Los Angeles to talk about what was going through his mind during the draft when he didn’t get his name called the first day, whether he felt as though he had conversations with teams that led him to believe they were going to select him, and whether there was an agreement with Pete Carroll that he would draft him to Seattle considering that is where he was from.
On what was going through his mind during the draft when he didn’t get his name called the first day:
“Man, you know, Thursday was tough. Thursday was tough, especially looking back on it now. It is a lot different now. I feel a lot different now that it is over with, but when it was going on it was real tough. I knew what my expectations were, I knew the time and effort that I put in, and it is tough for me to imagine any of the other players putting in more time, effort and sacrificing what I did. It was tough in that regard but it got to a point on Friday, after I didn’t go in the first round, it was a shock and kind of like unreal and then it got to a point when I was in the middle of the second round ‘Man, I hope San Fran is going to take me because that is where I want to go anyway.’ If it was going to happen like this and, obviously if I wasn’t going to go in the first round at least I went to the place that would give me the best chance to be the best football player that I could be and really that is all I ask for in the end. It isn’t about the money, but a chance to work for the best and a chance to really be and that is where I feel where I am at right now.”
Whether he felt as though he had conversations with teams that led him to believe they were going to select him:
“Man, I thought that definitely San Francisco was a chance in the first round. I thought that Miami, they was my coach at the Senior Bowl, they coached my team and they said that they needed a safety, we would love to draft, tons of stuff like that, they told me that. Who was another team? Cincinnati, god they was a real serious team that I thought would have drafted me. I thought Green Bay. You just don’t know. It is almost, it is a trip now thinking about it because all of the talks that you do and it just didn’t happen and you just really don’t know. That is what I have learned about this process. It is such a business, you don’t know what to expect. You kind of just go with what happens. When I met with San Francisco we really got along and we really connected. So that is why it wasn’t a surprise at all when they called me.”
How close he was leaving last year and what Pete Carroll told him to stay in school:
“No, I wasn’t whining. I hope that is not how it came across because I didn’t… The main thing that I had said, the keyword, is that I felt alarmed. I didn’t know if I was going to leave my junior year or not. It was just kind of like a thing where I just consulted people around me like Coach Carroll and some guys that I know in the NFL and they have been around and I trust them at that point in my career. So definitely I would trust them from that point on. It is not a decision that I regret at all. Coach Carroll helped me learn as much as I could have ever learned in college football and that is definitely true, and coming back to school and he would tell you and I would tell you the same thing, I am a better football player now then this time last year.”
Whether the reason he went back for his senior year was that he wanted to get better as a player:
“Definitely. Definitely be a better player, definitely learn more about the game and that is what it came down to and in terms of the media rankings or whatever, I wasn’t a better player today, but to myself to my coaches to the people that matter because they were the ones that were with me every day, they will tell you that. That is what I came back for and that is really what it was about. The other part was that I was just alarmed. I was almost caught off-guard because of what I thought was going to happen and what ended up happening.”
Whether there was an agreement with Pete Carroll that he would draft him to Seattle considering that is where he was from:
“Yeah you know I guess if it was a love movie on the Oxygen Channel. No but that would have been sweet. But it wasn’t about Seattle drafting me at all . Really it was just, I understand. Earl Thomas is a monster on the field, he gets around. He would have been the second safety off of the board anyway. It was more, in my regard, I was just a little alarmed and confused about where I ended up going versus where I thought that I would go. That is more what it was about. It wasn’t, if I were to play for Seattle that would have been cool but it was never like, Coach Carroll never said ‘We are going to draft you’ and I would have never expected him to say that. This is such a big business and I would have never expected him to say that, but he never said anything like that. I think it was, what got mislead, it was more along the lines from my standpoint, I thought that my draft stock was different than for what obviously ended up happening.”
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