UW's Taylor cancels pro day following surgery
MADISON, Wis. — Former University of Wisconsin linebacker Mike Taylor spent more than two months recovering from sports hernia surgery, all the while clinging to the idea of showcasing his skills in front of NFL scouts Wednesday. Instead, that day will come and go without any such workout session.
Taylor's scheduled pro day workout has been canceled, a UW athletic spokesperson confirmed Tuesday. Taylor's agent, Ron Slavin of Wisconsin-based BTI Sports Advisors, told FOXSportsWisconsin.com that Taylor had to undergo yet another sports hernia surgery on March 12.
"I feel bad for Mike," Slavin said. "If he would have been able to get an opportunity to work out, he would have turned some heads because he's more athletic than people think. But he's not going to be able to work out."
The news comes as a devastating blow to Taylor, one of the top tacklers in the Big Ten the past two seasons. Several NFL draft projections listed him being selected on the final day of the draft, but he could go undrafted entirely given this latest development. The draft takes place April 25-27.
"Not having a 40 time isn't the end of the world," Slavin said. "But when teams are in the draft rooms and have to talk about players, the GM asks, ‘What did he run,' and they don't have a time."
Taylor initially underwent sports hernia surgery on Jan. 7, just six days after Wisconsin's 20-14 loss against Stanford in the Rose Bowl. He said he began feeling the effects of his injury Oct. 27 during a game against Michigan State but continued to play through the pain the rest of the season.
Taylor told reporters during Wisconsin's pro day on March 6 that he would be ready three weeks later to hold his own workout.
"It feels better every week," Taylor said then. "It's just getting back used to running. Getting things done. I don't want to go out there with only two or three weeks of practice or preparation for it. I just want to make sure I'm ready before I do it."
Slavin said Taylor began preparations for his individual workout following Wisconsin's pro day, only to discover the ailment hadn't subsided.
"Mike is tougher than anybody I've ever represented," Slavin said. "The guy played with a double sports hernia and a tear in his abductor from October on. That shows, one, he's tough, two, he might be past crazy. After the pro day, he was getting ready to start going in full training, and he never felt right after that surgery. He's also not a guy that's ever going to complain. He said, 'I feel the same way I felt before the surgery.' "
Slavin said Taylor saw Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia for the March surgery. Meyers also performed sports hernia surgery on Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in February. Slavin noted the recovery period for surgery was six weeks and that Taylor would be ready in time for NFL minicamps, which begin in May.
During his four-year career at Wisconsin, Taylor started all 47 games in which he played. He registered 378 tackles, including 273 over the past two seasons as an outside linebacker. This season, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the media for a second straight year.
But his performance also deteriorated as the injury worsened. Taylor said he could barely run during the Big Ten championship game against Nebraska and in the Rose Bowl. During those two games, he averaged 4.0 tackles per game. In the previous 12 contests, he averaged 9.6 tackles.
According to the website sportsmedicine.com: "The typical sports hernia occurs when the muscle layer of abdominal wall in one specific area becomes thin relative to the other areas. This may result in a tear or strain in one of the abdominal muscles or the abdominal wall. When that happens, the underlying internal organs, particularly the intestines, push up against the muscular wall and can cause significant pain."
The website noted a sports hernia rarely causes a visible bulge in the muscle wall and therefore often goes overlooked for quite some time before a diagnosis is made. Common symptoms of sports hernias include a dull, aching pain in the lower abdomen or groin that gradually increases in severity. The pain generally worsens with exercise or physical activities such as running or weightlifting.
In early March, Taylor said he had gained 15 pounds since the Jan. 7 surgery and weighed 236 pounds. In addition to missing pro day, he also was forced to sit out the NFL Scouting Combine in late February. Taylor said he expected to be able to maintain the weight given that he could focus solely on football as a professional, and that bulk would be a necessary component to his NFL success.
"When it's just football, working out, this is what you're doing, living and breathing football, taking care of your body, it's quite easy," Taylor said. "I think I have a lot more I can do. Add a lot of muscle, especially legs. Since the surgery, I haven't really done a whole lot of hard working out yet, so I think there's definitely room to add more weight."
Unfortunately for Taylor, any improvements on and off the field have been put on hold once again. Still, Slavin remained optimistic that the latest setback in Taylor's football career wouldn't prevent him from excelling at the next level.
"He's obviously more athletic than people think," Slavin said. "There's going to be some linebackers taken in the top 100 picks that will be out of the league in three years, and we'll be talking about Mike Taylor 10 years from now still playing."
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