- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

AUBURN, ALA. (AP) - Emory Blake wanted to score touchdowns, not throw for them.

The Auburn receiver didn’t try to be a quarterback like his father and longtime NFL passer Jeff Blake, who scored an average of one touchdown during each of his 14 pro seasons.

“He wanted to get into the end zone,” Jeff Blake said. “I can’t blame him.”

Blake got that chance eight times last season and eventually emerged as one of Cam Newton’s favorite targets. He figures to play an even bigger role for the defending national champions in 2011.

The other established receivers are gone, along with Newton. That leaves Blake and a group that caught seven balls among them last season trying to fill the void.

He brings the seasoning that comes from growing up around NFL locker rooms, practices and games and getting tutorials from a pro.

Blake also brings enough confidence that he doesn’t back away from the bold assessment of receivers coach Trooper Taylor.

“He’s one of the best receivers in the SEC because he can make plays, guys,” Taylor said.

Blake thinks he can live up to that billing after two years behind Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery.

“I definitely do. I feel confident that I can,” he said. “Playing a lot last year and making some of the plays that I did and coming back this year, I felt really confident on the field, and I feel like I can be one of the best receivers in the SEC.”

Blake was the team’s No. 3 receiver last season but caught 24 passes for 353 yards and four touchdowns over Auburn’s final six games. He also had the longest play from scrimmage in school history with a 94-yard touchdown catch against Louisiana-Monroe.

By comparison, fellow returnees Quindarius Carr, Travante Stallworth and DeAngelo Benton combined for four catches, and highly touted freshman Trovon Reed was redshirted due to injury problems.

That leaves Blake and a group of untested players to field passes from Barrett Trotter, Clint Moseley or incoming freshman Kiehl Frazier. It’s similar to the situation Taylor faced two years ago, when Adams and Zachery went from five combined catches in 2008 to 86 the following season.

So Taylor spouts off cracks like “The talent is gone” and “The real players are gone” in practice and posted a less than glowing newspaper article on the receiver situation on his office wall.

“I want to see if they’re going to react to that,” Taylor said. “If you sit back and take something, you tolerate or accept it, you encourage it. What I want them to understand is that that’s everyone else’s perception. I talk to them about it every day. I want them to realize that.”

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