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After a breakout season in 2010, senior linebacker Aaron Taliaferro answers questions regarding his goals for 2011 and his connection with head coach Mike London. Taliaferro, a local product from Gloucester, Va., totaled 36 tackles and made six starts last season. He is competing as a graduate student in 2011 after earning his undergraduate degree in anthropology.

Question: Last year you appeared in all 12 of UVa’s games and started six of them after being named the defense’s most improved player in fall camp. What was it like to have such a breakout season?
Taliaferro
: It felt great. I had a really good experience with getting some starts during my fourth year. Winning the most improved player award was a huge confidence booster and that meant a lot to me. Last year was a great, great year for me. And I’m happy to be back competing this season.

Question: What are some of your personal and team goals for this season?
Taliaferro
: This year I definitely want to get more tackles. I want to do everything, so I want it to be great. I want to be as successful as possible so my family can be proud of me and also a goal of mine would be to take it to the next level. I’m really excited. You work so hard for so many weeks and now you just want to be out on the field. I want to see how everything comes together. This year, I feel as though I need to do more for this team. I want to be a big playmaker and I’m trying to make that one of my goals. Also, I’d like to be more of a role model and leader on this team.

Question: You mentioned your family. You describe your mother and grandmother as your childhood heroes. Can you expand on that?
Taliaferro
: My mother has always supported me no matter what. Even when I was little and was having a tougher time than most kids in school, my mother always encouraged me and told me that I could do it. And my grandmother, she was always there to take care of me. They have both been big role models in my life.

Question: You are competing as a graduate student in 2011 after earning an undergraduate degree in anthropology. Describe the feeling of graduating from the University of Virginia.
Taliaferro
: It felt great. That was one of the best moments of my life. You go to high school and you come to UVa knowing it is a big honor. Then you graduate and there is nothing better.

Question: Being from the Commonwealth (Gloucester, Va.), did you always know you wanted to stay close and football at Virginia?
Taliaferro
: At the beginning of the process, I knew Virginia was a great academic school. I always had it in my mind that I would like to earn my degree from UVa. It is also close to home so it was important to me that my family would be able to watch me play.

Question: Mike London was the defensive coordinator at Virginia during your first year, now he has been your head coach for two years. Describe him as a teacher and mentor.
Taliaferro
: He is a player’s coach. He always has our best interests in mind. From my first year right up until now he has always had a smile on his face and a way of encouraging all of us. He’s a great coach and a great person.

Question: Who are some of the teammates that have impacted you during your time at UVa?
Taliaferro
: I’ve watched football all of my life, but when I got here, I looked up to (former Cavalier and current NFL player for the New York Giants) Clint Sintim. In talking to him, I want to know how I can get to where he is.

Question: What’s something no one knows about you?
Taliaferro
: I hate scary movies. I get scared. I mean, I cannot watch anything that involves ghosts.

Question: What was your most memorable experience this summer?
Taliaferro
: I went to Virginia Beach, Va., for the very first time.

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