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Rattlers: Former ASU receiver makes home debut

Taplin snags three balls, touchdown

 by Brian Knapp
Special to the Web Devil

 published on Monday, April 12, 2004


Former ASU wide receiver Justin Taplin made the most of his home debut with the Arizona Rattlers Saturday night, assisting in an 80-63 win over the Las Vegas Gladiators in Arena Football League action.

Rattler quarterback Sherdrick Bonner hooked up with Taplin on a 32-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter, marking Taplin's first ever AFL score. Taplin ended the game with three catches for 45 yards and the lone touchdown.

"I'm having a lot of fun here," Taplin said. "This is the first time it feels I've got to play in a long time."

Despite only catching four passes in two games so far with the Rattlers, Taplin is excited about his opportunity to play football in Arizona again.

"Whether I play a small amount or a large amount, offense or defense, I'll do anything to help the team," Taplin said. "When they put me in the game, I know I can be a role player here."

After spending the first eight weeks on the practice squad, Taplin was called up prior to last weeks' game in Grand Rapids. Taplin was put on the active roster to play wide receiver/defensive back, following the departure of Hamin Milligan and Larry Nixon.

In just his second game in the AFL, Taplin appeared to be comfortable with the transition to the 50-yard field.

"This (arena football) is a much different feel, but I feel like I'm at home," Taplin said.

Head coach Danny White was impressed with Taplin's performance on Saturday, and will look to use him more as the team makes its playoff run.

"He's quick and he is just going to keep getting better," White said. "He's got another game under his belt he is going to be a good player for us."

Taplin is one of three former Sun Devil's on the Rattlers' active roster along with wide receiver Tom Pace and lineman Vince Amey. Pace has 448 all-purpose yards and 11 total touchdowns so far in his second season with Arizona, while Amey has tallied three tackles in his first year as a Rattler.

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