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Countdown: No. 51 Michael Taylor

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- There are officially 51 days left until the season begins. GatorBait.net continues its "Countdown to Kickoff" series, highlighting scholarship players and starters by number as we countdown to the season opener against Toledo on Aug. 31. Today, we take a look at junior linebacker Michael Taylor.

Junior linebacker Michael Taylor should be a key player in the rotation for Florida this fall.

No. 51 - LB Michael Taylor (6-0, 230 lbs.)

BACKGROUND: Taylor has been a steady contributor for the past two years after taking a redshirt during his first year on campus. He has played in all but one game in the last two years, racking up 68 tackles and two interceptions. He's expected to compete for the starting weak-side linebacker position heading into fall camp.

STATS: 68 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions

STRENGTHS: An aggressive, instinctive player, Taylor plays bigger than his size. He has no qualms about sticking his nose in there and hitting a bigger back. He has very good vertical speed getting into the backfield as a blitzer.

WEAKNESSES: At times, Taylor's aggressiveness is his biggest weakness. He tends to attack in the run game just a split-second too quickly, which leaves him just off his gap or blocked by a defender too easily. He also doesn't have great lateral quickness and tends to get beat in coverage against athletic tight ends.

NEEDS TO IMPROVE: The top thing Taylor needs to fix is simply being patient in the run game. While his aggressiveness produces some big plays behind the line, it also leaves Florida vulnerable to bigger runs at times. He needs to clear his cleats at the snap and pause for a split-second before attacking.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Going into fall camp, Taylor's probably the leader for the weak-side linebacker job. However, he's not an ideal fit due to his struggles in coverage. He'll have to really improve to hold off true freshman Daniel McMillian throughout the season. Still, Taylor will play as many snaps as anybody else at linebacker as a rotational player if he loses the starting job. He'll also see snaps as the backup middle linebacker.

QUOTABLE: Taylor on the opportunity to replace Jelani Jenkins -- "I'm just trying to get better as a player. Knowing the ins-and-outs of every play and what everybody else is supposed to do. I'm just trying to be the quarterback and leader of the defense out there like we need. We have to work as a team, so as long as we're all on the same page it will work out well."

PREVIOUS COUNTDOWN ARTICLES:

No. 99 - DT Jay-nard Bostwick
No. 97 - K Brad Phillips
No. 95 - DE Alex McCalister
No. 94 - DE Bryan Cox Jr.
No. 92 - DE Jordan Sherit
No. 91 - DT Joey Ivie
No. 90 - DE Jonathan Bullard
No. 89 - WR Chris Thompson
No. 88 - TE Clay Burton
No. 87 - TE Tevin Westbrook
No. 86 - WR Raph Andrades
No. 84 - TE Colin Thompson
No. 83 - WR Solomon Patton
No. 82 - WR Marqui Hawkins
No. 81 - WR Ahmad Fulwood
No. 80 - WR Alvin Bailey
No. 79 - OT Quinteze Williams
No. 77 - OG Ian Silberman
No. 76 - OG Max Garcia
No. 75 - OT Chaz Green
No. 74 - OT Trenton Brown
No. 73 - OT Tyler Moore
No. 72 - C Jon Harrison
No. 70 - OT D.J. Humphries
No. 68 - OT/TE Trevon Young
No. 67 - OG Jon Halapio
No. 65 - OL Cameron Dillard
No. 64 - OL Kyle Koehne
No. 63 - OT Trip Thurman
No. 57 - DT Caleb Brantley
No. 55 - DT Darious Cummings
No. 54 - OT Roderick Johnson

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