"That gave me extra motivation. Everything from what I eat to if I go out, my mentality to everything, especially since this is my last year. There ain't no coming back, no 'next year, hopefully this happens.' This is my last go-around, so I try to put myself in the best situation to succeed, whether it's food or watching film. There's no cutting reps."
Opportunity also presented itself in the form of Grooms' sprained ankle, suffered during the first week of camp. That gave Taliaferro more carries during practice and he proved himself worthy of the workload. Through most of the open practice sessions, Taliaferro lined up with the first-team offense.
His teammates have taken notice. Quarterback Rakeem Cato appreciates Taliaferro's ability to run hard on every carry, take a big hit, pop back up and do it again.
"'Tally' has done just a phenomenal job this camp, every day just progressing and progressing and getting better," Cato said, "whether it's a run play or a pass play, whether he's blocking or running the ball. He just took it to another notch this camp. Whatever he's getting, he deserves it."
Defensive end Alex Bazzie said he's seen a consistency from his fellow redshirt senior that he hadn't seen before. Those 27 carries against ECU were more than his total carries in either the 2010 or 2011 season.
"We always respected his game," he said. "We always respected his speed and his power. But after a while, when it started to become consistent, that's when we were like, wow, this guy's somebody special."
It will be tough to keep a 100-percent healthy Grooms off the field. It will be tough to keep a spot near the top of the depth chart with talented young backs like Grooms, Butler and Watson to fight off every practice. But Taliaferro is proud that he's gained a new measure of respect from his coaches and teammates.
"Always in the back of my head, I felt that, when the opportunity was given, I could make plays for this team and help give us a chance to win," he said.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.