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Taylor Mays On His 40-yard Dash Time: “as A Competitor, I Have A Really Hard Time Believing That Eight Other Players Ran Faster Than Me.”

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Taylor Mays On His 40-Yard Dash Time: “As a competitor, I have a really hard time believing that eight other players ran faster than me.”

Prior to this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, there was arguably no player scrutinized as heavily as USC safety Taylor Mays. That’s not to say he was either universally heralded or lambasted as an NFL prospect. In fact, there seems to have been very little consensus about his potential to be a game-changing rover in the middle of the field at the NFL level. Of course, Mays’ four years at ‘SC were filled with highlight reel bone-crunching hits, but some scouts and ‘draftniks’ thought he lacked the lateral speed and the ability to back pedal well enough to play the way he does at the next level. Then there are concerns about the knee injury he suffered during his senior season. Anyway, what happened at the Combine this past week surely didn’t help resolve the debate surrounding Mays. You can check out his workout results here. One interesting note from his workouts is the irregularities surrounding his 40 yard dash time. He ran a 4.24, which is of course a staggering time for any player, let alone a safety. Thing is though, that time was deemed ‘unofficial’. His official time was clocked at 4.43 – a still plenty impressive time for his position. Still, some have written that Mays struggled significantly in some of the other DB drills. That’s left Mays hungry to get this whole process over with and get out on the football field where he feels most comfortable.Mays joined 710 ESPN in Seattle to talk about why he stayed at Southern Cal for his senior season when he was projected to be an early 1st Round pick a year ago, the whole clocking irregularities with his 40 time at the Combine, how and why he was shocked to learn about Pete Carroll’s departure from USC, how he tries not to let outside criticism affect him, and his preparation as he continues to get ready for the NFL Draft.

Low-Angle Photo of a Boy Playing Soccer

On why he stayed at USC for his senior season when he was projected to be an early 1st Round pick:

“I just like football, I like to play. I’m a fan of football, and it’s really important to me to get the most out of everything. I wanted to play college football to get the most out of it, just like I want to play NFL football to get the most out of it. Just to kind of get everything out of it, all the stories from it, because I’m such a big fan of it. Those stories, those experiences, I love the game because college football is so pure. I wanted to get better. I wanted the chance to play this game I love and get better at it with the coaches I’ve been working with, and to finish off this thing I started at USC four years ago.”

On running a 4.24 40 at the Combine only to have it be considered ‘unofficial’:

“That was wrong. I don’t agree with that. The reason it makes me mad is…not mad, but I get a little upset about it is because I put a lot of time and effort into running fast. And people always remember what you run, your time in the 40. You know, as a competitor, I have a really hard time believing that eight other players ran faster than me.”

On if he thinks the 4.24 should be official:

“I don’t know if 4.24 should be official, but I know not 4.43. I know seeing some of the other guys beat me, that doesn’t seem right. I saw myself run in unison with another player who ran faster than me on his official time, but I beat him when we ran side by side. That doesn’t make sense to me. But it is what it is. And I know what kind of feedback I’ve been getting from NFL teams, and it’s different than the quote-unquote official time.”

On if he was shocked by former USC coach Pete Carroll’s decision to leave L.A. for the Seahawks gig in Seattle:

“I was actually very shocked because going to USC and having him be my coach, I would have never expected him to leave. You know, you associate him with ‘SC, and you associate LA with Coach Carroll’s face. And seeing him not there, it seems weird. It seems like the football program shouldn’t go on, I know obviously it will and they’ll be successful, but it seems like it’s not supposed to go on. But at the same time, you look at it and say Coach Carroll is his own person. Coach Carroll is a grown man, he has a family, and he has to do what’s best for him. I respect that. And I know he’s a competitor more than anything. He wants to be the best and this is his chance to show that he can do it in the NFL. I’m happy for him. Even if he had left when I was coming back for my senior season, even if he had left last year, I would have understood and supported him.”

On if the criticism he’s been receiving has left a chip on his shoulder to prove doubters wrong at the NFL level:

“I have a chip on my shoulder regardless. Not necessarily to prove people wrong, because I don’t feel like I have to prove anybody anything except myself, my family, my teammates and my coaches. But I definitely want to be respected, that’s important to me. But people are going to say what they want to say regardless, and it’s the same people that when I do things well one year ago, love me.  And at the same time the next year, they say the worst things about me. I can’t be worried about them because I can’t let them affect my life.”

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