Luck, the presumed No. 1 overall pick for the Indianapolis Colts in this month's NFL draft, set up so much of Stanford's offense — predicated on zone blocking and a powerful running game — the last three years. Nottingham and Josh Nunes are competing to replace him, and no matter who's at quarterback, they'll be banking on a familiar face in the backfield to bail them out.
Taylor takes that responsibility seriously.
He has assumed more of a leadership role this spring with so many of those familiar faces on The Farm departed. While that's not usually being vocal— "I know I haven't been a rah-rah type guy," Taylor admits — dominating on the practice field and in the weight room keeps teammates pushing for more.
Even in unconventional places, too.
In his spare time, Taylor has trained in Bikram Yoga — usually set in a room at about 105 degrees — since his senior year in high school in Mansfield, Texas. He has increased those workouts this spring, part of his offseason goal to become more flexible and agile while staying at his usual 210-215 pound playing weight.
"It's just hot in there. You're just dying in there sweating," Taylor said. "First time I did it, there were little girls in there just doing everything so easily. And I'm like, 'Really?' So I just stuck with it after that."
Taylor's coaches aren't expecting much more from the running back this season.
Other than consistency, of course.
Only five other Stanford players have reached 1,000 yards rushing in a season, most recently Gerhart (1,871) in 2009, when he eclipsed the milestone for the second time and started the string of three straight Heisman runners-up for Stanford. Nobody is expecting that kind of notoriety for Taylor this season.
If for no other reason than the program's bevy of backs, which will include highly touted freshman Barry Sanders — the Hall of Famer's son whom Taylor helped recruit during a campus visit last fall — Taylor's carries will likely stay the same, a figure as reliable as just about every other part of Taylor's game.
"I think for Stepfan, in particular, it's got a chance to be a real breakout year for him, just nationally," Shaw said. "But he's not going to do anything differently."
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