Montini WR Taylor adds smarts to speed

LOMBARD, Ill. -- Montini senior wide receiver Anthony Taylor's great asset is his speed.

No one denies that. He can run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and is faster than any of the team’s wide receivers, including Nebraska recruit Jordan Westerkamp.

“Jordan won’t admit it, but he’s faster than Jordan,” Montini coach Chris Andriano said with a laugh.

The problem used to be that all Taylor was good for was his speed. If he could sprint past his defender, everything was great. If he couldn’t outrun them or the play was designed for him to block, he couldn’t be relied on.

Now in his third year on varsity, Taylor has broadened his game. He’s learned to understand his routes, inside and out, and has devoted more effort toward being physical and finding someone to block.

If the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Taylor can continue to show those improvements this season, the Broncos expect to have two Division-I wide receivers when it’s all over.

“He has an offer from North Dakota,” Andriano said. “A lot of MAC schools are interested in him. There are a couple Big Ten schools interested. I think early film will be important. He’s got Division-I aspirations, and I think he can play at that level.

“He has to prove he can be a little more physical, but he’s a great player. He is a special receiver in his own right. He’s in the shadows of Jordan a little bit, but that’s not a bad shadow to be in.”

Based on Taylor’s athletic ability, he was brought up to varsity (along with Westerkamp) as a sophomore. Both started for Montini’s Class 5A state championship team in 2009, but Westerkamp was much further ahead in his skill set.

Montini wide receiver coach Bob Westerkamp, Jordan’s father, remembered Taylor being very raw as a sophomore. Bob saw Taylor had the makings of a quality receiver, but he had to learn the basics before he could get there.

“With Anthony, he was a great athlete, and we had to kind of teach him the skills of the receiver position,” Bob said. “He was someone who needed to learn all the techniques and intricacies of route running, releases off the line of scrimmage -- not just thinking, I can outrun a guy and that’s all I need to do.

“As the years have gone by, we’ve tried to stress that with him. You have the athleticism. Now, you combine that with the technique and the actual knowhow of a receiver, and that’s when you move up the ladder of an elite receiver.”

Taylor has seen himself make those strides. When looking back at where he came from, he knows he’s a completely different receiver now.

“I’m running routes now knowing why I run the routes,” Taylor said. “That was a big issue when I was a freshman coming into Montini. Now, I understand why we do certain things as a receiver. Before, I wasn’t really a good blocker, but now I’ve really developed why I’m blocking and know how to. That’s really how I’ve expanded as a receiver.”

Taylor began showing off those skills last season when he caught 51 passes for 847 yards and eight touchdowns. The expectation is for those numbers to grow this season.

“We won state, and that was the overall picture,” Taylor said. “Individually, I was happy, but I wouldn’t say satisfied because you always expect more than anybody out of yourself. This year, I expect way more better results than last year.

“One of my goals is to have more receiving yards, be a better blocker, be a better overall player and just make our team better.”

As for being in Westerkamp’s shadow? Taylor doesn’t mind, especially when opponents are double-teaming his teammate.

“Teams will pay when they do it,” Taylor said. “If they put single coverage on me, there will be consequences.”