The allure of Kadarius Toney may be new to some but it is far from a fad. When #4 in purple and white stepped onto the field at Harris-Terry Stadium for Mattie T. Blount High School, fans were glued to the bleachers to watch the player who back then was throwing the ball--not catching it. During his final two high school seasons, Toney threw for 6,498 yards and 69 touchdowns. Remarkably, his rushing ability was equally impressive, as he added almost 1,800 yards on the ground and 31 touchdowns. Despite growing up in Prichard, Alabama, he nixed an offer from Nick Saban, instead choosing to head to Gainesville to become a Florida Gator
There was uncertainty surrounding what position Toney would best be utilized in when he first entered college. Despite possessing artillery arm strength, the combination of redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks and Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire provided Coach Jim McElwain the luxury of utilizing Toney’s gifted athleticism as a utility player. He dealt with shin and shoulder injuries throughout his first year, limiting him to eight games.
His sophomore season provided some optimism, as Toney played in 12-of-13 games. His 25 receptions outperformed future NFL draft selections Tyrie Cleveland and Freddie Swain. He was also the primary kick returner for the Gators, averaging 22.2 yards per return. His junior year was limited as well, as a shoulder injury in the second game of the year against Kentucky caused Toney to miss the next six games. He ended the year with only ten receptions for 194 yards and one touchdown.
In his final campaign with the Gators, Toney put on a show. He played in every game and shattered expectations with career highs in receptions (62) and receiving yards (831), leading the team in both categories. Despite Toney’s inconsistent production throughout his college career, there is no question that he will be a dynamic weapon for whatever team drafts him in April.
Film Review: Strengths & Weaknesses
Toney is a super aggressive route-runner in the short and intermediate sections of the field. You can tell he has spent hours perfecting his footwork and agility, leading to some of the most impressive routes in college football. His whip-reverse route stands out in particular; Toney has developed impressive instincts and timing with the defender on his back hip. Yet, he is much more impressive with the ball in his hands, displaying the vision and ability to find open lanes. Toney’s experience on special teams provides him a safe floor at the next level.
While he displayed great hands throughout the season, he tends to body catch a little too much. He had a number of frustrating drops during the one-on-one portions of Senior Bowl week. Although they seemed to be directly related to concentration, this is something that he will need to clean up before playing on Sundays. Sometimes, his propensity for trying to make the highlight reel play every snap costs him easy yards. Despite his success in the short and intermediate-range, he is a fairly limited vertical route runner and his average deep speed does not instill confidence that this will be a part of his arsenal in the NFL.
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