Wide receivers coaches will be highlighted in Part Six of our “Meet the Coaches” at Cat Crave.
Ricky Proehl – Wide Receivers
PLAYING AND PERSONAL
A standout wide receiver at Wake Forest from 1986-89 before being selected in the third round (58th overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Cardinals, Proehl left the university as the holder of almost every major receiving record. He still ranks as the Demon Deacons’ all-time leader with 2,949 receiving yards and 25 touchdown catches, and his 188 receptions stand second. Proehl led the team in receiving three consecutive seasons and finished first in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 65 catches for a then school-record 1,053 yards as a senior in 1989.
Proehl majored in speech communications at Wake Forest. In recognition of his college and professional accomplishments, he was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in May 2011.
Proehl finished his career with 669 receptions for 8,878 yards and 54 touchdowns. He appeared in 244 games with 110 starts for the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts. Proehl earned all-rookie honors in 1990 and was a member of four Super Bowl teams, including championship teams with the Rams and Colts. In three seasons with the Panthers, he registered 86 catches for 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns and participated on two playoff teams.
During the 1999 postseason with the Rams, he snagged a one-handed, 30-yard touchdown reception with 4:44 to play that lifted St. Louis to a victory over Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship. In his first game as a Panther, in the 2003 season opener versus Jacksonville, Proehl caught a 12-yard touchdown on fourth down with 16 seconds left to cap a come-from-behind win and propel the Panthers on their Super Bowl run.
But Proehl’s playing days were distinguished by far more than his statistical achievements. He earned a reputation as a sure-handed and clutch player, making dramatic plays at critical times.
After retiring from the NFL following the 2006 season, Proehl has owned and operated Proehlific Park, a family sports complex and fitness center, in Greensboro, N.C.
Known for his hard work, savvy and veteran leadership, as well as the example he set for young players, Proehl essentially began coaching while still playing. A student of the game and an excellent communicator, he mentored teammates like Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt in St. Louis and Steve Smith in Carolina.
Proehl joined the Panthers in 2011 as an offensive consultant and worked primarily with wide receivers. He assisted with a group that consisting of the veteran Smith and a host of young receivers. Smith earned his fifth Pro Bowl selection after finishing fifth in the NFL with 1,394 yards on 79 receptions with seven touchdowns, while LaFell emerged as a starter by season’s end, tallying 36 catches for 613 yards and three touchdowns.
In 2012, Proehl helped wide receiver and former teammate Steve Smith record his second consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season and seventh overall. Smith became the 27th player in NFL history to reach 11,000 career receiving yards. Proehl also tutored third-year wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who set career highs with 44 catches, 677 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns.
Following 17 years as an NFL player, former wide receiver Ricky Proehl is in his third season as a member of Carolina’s coaching staff and first as wide receivers coach in 2013.
Wide receiver: Wake Forest 1986-89. Pro wide receiver: Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals 1990-94, Seattle Seahawks 1995-96, Chicago Bears 1997, St. Louis Rams 1998-2002, Carolina Panthers 2003-05, Indianapolis Colts 2006. Pro coach: Joined Panthers in 2011.
Lance Taylor – Assistant Wide Receivers
PLAYING AND PERSONAL
A walk-on at Alabama before earning a scholarship, Taylor played in 38 consecutive games at wide receiver from 1999-2003. As a senior, he served as a special teams captain in current Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula’s first season as the Crimson Tide’s head coach.
Taylor then played professionally for the Colorado Crush and Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League and Green Bay Blizzard and Louisville Fire of af2 from 2004-06.
He graduated from Alabama with a degree in business management. Taylor’s father, James, also attended Alabama and was a member of the school’s 1973 national championship team as a running back under legendary head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
Taylor began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Nick Saban at his alma mater, Alabama, from 2007-08.
In 2009, Taylor coached wide receivers at Appalachian State. Under his watch, the Mountaineers set school records with 284 receptions and 3,621 receiving yards. The team finished 11-3, won the Southern Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision semifinals.
Taylor spent three seasons with the New York Jets from 2010-12, serving as a coaching intern in 2010, offensive quality control coach in 2011 and assistant tight ends/quality control coach in 2012. As assistant tight ends coach, Taylor helped tight ends Jeff Cumberland and Dustin Keller rank second and third on the team with 29 and 28 catches, respectively.
Taylor joins the Panthers in 2013 as assistant wide receivers coach after three years of NFL coaching experience and three on the college level.
Wide receiver: Alabama 1999-2003. Pro wide receiver/defensive back: Colorado Crush (AFL) 2004, Columbus Destroyers (AFL) 2005, Green Bay Blizzard (AF2) 2005, Louisville Fire (AF2) 2006. College coach: Alabama 2007-08, Appalachian State 2009. Pro coach: New York Jets 2010-12, joined Panthers in 2013.
NEXT: Tight Ends, Running Backs, and Quarterbacks Coaches