Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 12/30/11
The 2011 senior campaign hasn't been the most ideal for UCLA wide receiver Taylor Embree. He led UCLA in catches the previous two seasons. In 2011 he was third on the team in catches, finishing with career lows for receptions in a season (19) and receiving yards (212). There was also that wall incident on December 21st. The seniors decided they would honor the tradition of going over the wall and ditched practice. Embree was vocal in his defense of his teammates and their decision to have a movie day instead of going through bowl practice. "We did it at the EagleBank Bowl. The same thing (happened), everyone criticized us. We won the game. No one said anything about the wall then. It's a tradition that the seniors felt like they wanted to carry on," said Embree. For the first time in his UCLA career, Embree did not play in a game. He missed the Bruins game against Cal earlier this season serving a one-game suspension after the team's brawl against Arizona. Still, he has no regrets as his career comes to an end. "One thing I can say that I left out here is I've always left everything I've had on the field whether it was on the practice (field) or game (field)," said Embree. Although, from a statistical standpoint, the numbers didn't relate to his first three years on campus, he still was able to move up in the UCLA receiving record book. With 136 receptions, he's now 7th on the UCLA career receptions list. He moved past Freddie Mitchell, Mike Farr, Marcedes Lewis, and Mike Sherrard this season. He's three receptions behind Brian Poli-Dixon, who's 6th on the list. Embree's 1,760 career receiving yards are 13th on the UCLA career receiving yards list, 13 yards behind Jojo Townsell. It's a great feat that displays the individual success he's had in the program, but the numbers never meant much to him. "There's always the individual things that you accomplish but that's something that's never meant a lot to me. For me it's being a good teammate and enjoying the college experience," said Embree. "My biggest accomplishments, my favorite memories are all stuff I've done with the team, whether it be team bowling, practices we've had, or inside jokes." The Bruins senior wideout never realized his dream of playing in a Rose Bowl, but takes pride in being on a team that participated in the first Pac-12 Championship Game. He'll have one last chance to take the field with his teammates and end his career on a high note when UCLA (6-7) takes on Illinois (6-6) on Saturday in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at 12:30pm. "It's going to be real emotional," said Embree. "I still remember the first practice I had at (Spaulding Field) I got thrown in the two minute drill and I had no idea. I didn't know what was up and what was down. I'm going to miss all of that. I'm going to miss being out here with all of my teammates." It's the second bowl appearance in the last three seasons for Embree and UCLA. The Bruins are 14-15-1 all-time in bowl games and 2-1 all-time in bowl games against Illinois. The last meeting was a UCLA 6-3 win in the John Hancock Bowl on December 31, 1991.
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