INDIANAPOLIS — When he was at the Senior Bowl, Coastal Carolina running back Lorenzo Taliaferro opened some eyes by proving himself to be maybe the best pass blocker there.
This weekend at the NFL combine, the 6-foot-1, 229-pound Virginia native hopes to show NFL teams that he can also run well.
“Lorenzo is a power runner, but he’s pretty fast, too,” said Coastal Carolina wide receiver Matt Hazel, who is also in Indianapolis for the combine. “He’s a great blocker, too. He’s also a great teammate and was a good captain. I’m excited for him. He definitely deserves this and I’m happy for him. He’s worked hard for it.”
Taliaferro did a lot of running last year for the Chanticleers. He shattered the single-season school record for rushing yards with 1,729 and nearly doubled the old school mark with 27 touchdowns. He also tied or set 10 other school records in 2013. Those marks earned him the honor of being named the Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Even with all that productivity, he takes pride in delivering a big hit while blocking.
“You’ve got to like it, whatever it takes to get you on the field,” Taliaferro said. “Ideally, every running back just wants to run the ball, but if you can contribute more, your stock can always rise.”
Taliaferro uses his hands as a puncher in pass protection. He bends well, but admits he could be more flexible. He also thinks he needs to work on developing better lateral speed. As far as straight-ahead speed, Taliaferro hopes to run his 40-yard dash on Sunday in the 4.5-second range. But his true strength is as a power runner and he loves “getting the tough yards” after contact.
He was the feature back for the Chanticleers last year and didn’t play a lot of special teams while at Coastal Carolina. He played on kick return units and was a personal punt protector at Lackawanna Junior College in Pennsylvania before transferring to Coastal Carolina. He knows there are some questions about his ability to play special teams in the NFL.
The Chanticleers will have a different look at running back next year and not just because Taliaferro is gone. Running backs coach Brock Olivo left to take a job as a special teams coach with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“He’s a great guy,” Taliaferro said. “He’s patient, just the way he teaches us. He’s a great person. He’s not a yeller, which is great. He’s so calm and the type of coach you want to learn from.
“He goes with us from station to station and drill to drill. He probably had the best body on campus. He still looks like he can play to this day.”