Wyoming’s Kolbey Taylor Has a Brand New Mentality in ’23
LAS VEGAS -- Kolbey Taylor always had the physical abilities to play the cornerback position at this level, it's the rest of the package that is beginning to come together.
That's the message Craig Bohl sent throughout spring camp.
Nothing changed this summer. If anything, he got even better, according to Wyoming's 10th-year head coach.
And it all starts upstairs.
"He's always had pretty good ability, but maybe some of the ups and downs if a play didn't go right," Bohl said at the annual Mountain West Media Days event in Las Vegas. "Last year was, I would say, a mixed bag at best. Then something began to change in the offseason."
What's the biggest difference?
Taylor pointed to poise, technique and being coachable. He said that after the Cowboys' spring game, adding he's playing more fast and physical than ever. We all got a glimpse when he stepped in front of an Andrew Peasley heave in that glorified scrimmage.
"Last year I was second guessing myself," Taylor said. "Now, I feel like I have those new pieces."
The 6-foot-3, 186-pound sophomore appeared in nine games during the 2022 campaign. He started just one. It was short-lived. That came in the Arizona Bowl last December.
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On Ohio's fourth play from scrimmage, Taylor was ejected from the contest for a targeting penalty. He stuck a receiver up high, a clear helmet-to-helmet blow. To make matters even worse, the flag flew on a 3rd and 11. The pass was incomplete. It wasn't particularly close, either.
Dave Portnoy, the president of game sponsor Barstool Sports, called the play "idiotic," "stupid" and "selfish." He even suggested -- tongue and cheek -- he would "revoke" Taylor's scholarship.
A visibly emotional Taylor could only shake his head as he roamed the sideline in disbelief.
Then came the infamous helmet spike.
Those days are apparently in the rear-view mirror.
"That's pretty accurate," Bohl said when asked about Taylor's maturation process and if that has changed for the better. "... His attitude, his attention to detail (has been good). He put on some weight. Then, he had a really good spring."
His teammates have noticed.
"I mean, you don't see too many 6-foot-4 dudes that move like he does," said linebacker Easton Gibbs, who was named the conference's preseason defensive player of the year in Las Vegas. "You know, last year, we knew he had it in him. It was kind of like the mental side of learning this playbook and being ready to actually go out there and compete. He's probably the most athletic corner that I've seen since I've been here, but, yeah, the steps he's taken this offseason, mentally, (has been impressive).
"You never really expected him to emerge as a leader of that secondary, vocally, but he's kind of emerged as that. And it's definitely cool to see him go about his business the way he has this offseason. It's going to be fun to watch. It's a 180 from last year and it's going to be really cool to see."
Taylor, who is originally from Florida, played his high school football at Pasadena Memorial in the Greater Houston Area. The hometown Cougars recruited him. Wyoming got him. The former three-star prospect played safety and caught passes. Now, he's expected to help this Cowboys' secondary play takeaway, something that wasn't prevalent last fall.
UW's corners picked off just four passes in 13 games. Cam Stone snagged two. Jakorey Hawkins and Deron Harrell had the others.
Stone is now at Hawaii. Harrell's injury status is unknown. Hawkins missed spring camp after undergoing offseason surgery.
Taylor, who has tallied only three tackles in his young career and is currently listed as a back-up on the Pokes' initial depth chart, is expected to make plays. Bohl is confident he will.
"I'm not saying he's 6-foot-4, but he's pretty damn close," he said. "When you've got that kind of length and to be able to run, that's a potential combination of some really (special things). I know what great corners look like that play, and he's got that makeup now.
"Now, we just have to see him be consistent."