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StarBulletin.com

Taylor's turn to return


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POSTED: Thursday, April 02, 2009

Jovonte Taylor endured a frightening experience last year.

Now he's hoping to instill some fear into Hawaii opponents next fall.

“;He's scary as far as speed,”; Warriors offensive coordinator Ron Lee said.

After the former track standout's first season at UH was cut short by a debilitating illness, Taylor is back with the Warriors for spring practice and back to full speed.

Taylor, a decorated sprinter in high school and junior college, was expected to give the Warriors a speedy threat at wide receiver and on kickoff returns last fall. But a nasty bug sapped his strength, eventually leading him to return home to Los Angeles to recover.

“;Whatever it was, it wasn't that nice, I can tell you that,”; Taylor said.

After recuperating from both the illness and minor surgery to treat a torn meniscus in his knee, the junior is spending the spring getting comfortable again in the Warriors offense while working at right wide receiver.

“;I think I got it all back. The speed is there, getting back into the rhythm of the offense, catching on real quick,”; Taylor said after yesterday's practice at Ching Field.

“;The first day I was kind of rusty, but it's getting better and better.”;

Taylor played in Hawaii's first three games last season, picking up 134 yards on nine kickoff returns. He returned three kicks for 57 yards and caught two passes for 38 yards in his Division I debut at Florida, but touched the ball just six more times.

In the week leading up to the Warriors' game against San Jose State, Taylor began suffering from headaches, “;and from there it went out of control,”; he said.

“;It felt like I was on my death bed. ... It was horrible, I wouldn't wish that on anybody, not even my enemies.”;

Taylor said he dropped about 25 pounds while spending most of a three-week stretch in bed. He withdrew from his classes and returned to Los Angeles in October and eventually began to regain his appetite and his strength.

“;The following week, I started working out, running again. That's when it started coming back,”; he said.

Taylor, who is in sound academic standing, said the speed that propelled him to a state championship in the 100 meters while at Los Angeles Southwest College has returned. He said his best time in the event was 10.4 seconds ... and he didn't even care much for track.

“;I did it because I knew it would help me on the football field,”; he said. “;I knew it would help me get faster.

“;Instead of running wild, that slows you down a lot, with good form it keeps you straight and keeps you focused and you can run a lot faster, definitely.”;

While Taylor is savoring his return to the field, Lee also welcomes having another option on the outside to stretch defenses.

“;He's swimming a little bit, but he's going to be a good one,”; Lee said. “;He looked at tape, so he's got a good understanding, but we're moving a little faster this spring. We're installing more, a lot of different coverages. He's coming along fine. He's going to be exciting.”;

While Taylor is uplifted by his return to the offense this spring, his expression brightens a few more watts at the prospect of returning kickoffs again in the fall.

“;That's what I do,”; he said. “;I love that.”;

With Malcolm Lane—who averaged 26.5 yards per return—also returning, Taylor said the combination could be ...

“;Dangerous,”; he said with a grin. “;That's all I have to say.”;